Army today strongly rebutted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegations that its personnel were deployed at toll plazas without informing the state government and were collecting money, saying the exercise was being carried out in coordination with Kolkata Police.
“This is being done in coordination with local police authorities. The exercise was earlier planned for November 27 and 28. The dates were changed to November 30 to December 2 on a specific request by Kolkata Police due to Bharat Bandh called on November 28,” said GOC Bengal area (officiating) Maj Gen Sunil Yadav.
Reacting to the Chief Minister’s allegations he said, “We deny all charges with all contempt.”
In a statement posted on Indian army’s Eastern Command’s official twitter handle @EasternCommand_IA, Indian Army said: “The ongoing exercise involves collection of data in all north eastern states including Assam (18 points), Arunachal Pradesh (13 points), West Bengal (19 points), Manipur (06 points), Nagaland (05 points), Meghalaya (05 points), and Tripura and Mizoram.”
Army also asserted that only 5-6 of its unarmed personnel were deployed at each point to collect the data of heavy vehicle movement.
Army also rubbished the allegations of money being collected by its personnel.
In its statement army said a similar exercise was conducted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand between 26 September and 01 October this year under the South Western Command.
It said the similar exercise was again conducted in these three states – UP, Bihar and Jharkhand between 19 to 21 November this year under army’s central command.
Mamata had yesterday alleged that the army had been deployed without informing the state government.
“This is unprecedented and a very serious matter”, she had said.
She had also claimed that the army personnel were collecting money from vehicles, which they were not supposed to.
Maj Gen Yadav said a similar exercise in Eastern Command was carried out in November 2015 at the same places.
The Maj Gen said that a recce was conducted with two inspectors of the Kolkata Police at toll plaza on November 27 last.
“The issues raised by the police were addressed and were telephonically informed to the police,” he said.
The exercise will continue as planned earlier and will end tonight, he said.