Mamata refuses to leave secretariat after army deployed at nearby toll booths
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday refused to leave the state secretariat until Army personnel are withdrawn from toll plaza in front of it.india Updated: Dec 02, 2016 09:25 IST
Late-night drama gripped West Bengal on Thursday after chief minister Mamata Banerjee decided not to go home and instead stay put at the state secretariat Nabanna to protest against the “sudden deployment” of the army in the area.
A livid Mamata took to Twitter to express her disgust, saying, “Very unfortunate. Army stationed in front of Nabanno, the Bengal State Secretariat in a high security zone, in spite of police objection. I am waiting here at the Secretariat and watching to guard our democracy.”
As the news hit headlines across TV channels and social media, the army stuck to its stand that it was a “routine exercise” and refused to budge.
Jawans could be seen noting down numbers of goods vehicles crossing Vidyasagar Setu, a stone’s throw from the state secretariat in Howrah district. The bridge connects Kolkata and Howrah across the river Hooghly. Soldiers were also spotted at Dankuni toll plaza in Hooghly district, and Pallsit toll plaza in Burdwan district.
Addressing a hurriedly called press conference at Nabanna a little earlier, Mamata said, “We knew the country is undergoing an economic emergency unleashed by demonetisation. But now the states are being hounded by the Centre for not falling in line. Today it’s Bengal, tomorrow it may be Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. Even if the army is used to suppress communal tension or riots, the states are not being informed. Why was the state not informed in this instance?”
Army spokesperson SS Birdi told HT, “This is a routine exercise and we have already informed the police and the district magistrates. This was basically done to know the number of load carriers available that might be of use to the army in times of emergency.”
Howrah police officers, however, claimed that the army had not informed them about either the deployment or the survey.