Mamata Banerjee’s Protest:After around 30 hours of protest at Nabanna, the State secretariat by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Army has left the toll booth at Ghoshpukur in Jalpaiguri. Mamata was protesting against the stationing of Army trucks on National highways and at toll plazas. She had left the government headquarters on Friday at 6.20pm and settled down for a protest demanding Army to withdrawal the highways and toll booths where the security personnel deployed to collect the toll charges.
Two withdrawals marked the end of the first act of the drama that started 10 days ago when the defence ministry wrote to the Hastings police station in Kolkata requesting assistance for conducting its annual exercise on highways.
Trinamool members praised Mamata’s efforts
On the other hand, Trinamool members said Mamata’s efforts at the state secretariat have taken the West Bengal government’s quarrel with the Centre to the next level. She accused Centre Government on Friday saying that the government is using Army against our government, which provoked Union minister Ananth Kumar requested to TMC Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay saying that leaves the Army out of the politics.
Letters sent to various state government agencies by the Army on November 23 onwards stated that it had informed the state government about its routine exercise. However, the state government refused while saying that the Army did not obtain permission to conduct the exercise and rushed into it.
Other side, Mamata Banerjee criticized the government for deploying Army at toll plazas and highways. The army has been deployed without intimating the state government. This is unprecedented and very serious matter,” said CM had said on Thursday when she announced to sit on the protest at Nabanna until Army withdraws from the state.
Army should have taken the permission from the state” Parth Chatterjee
A state parliamentary affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee tailored the charge somewhat on Friday when he said “The Army had not taken prior permission from the state government, which they should have because law and order comes under the state’s domain.”
Chief Secretary Basudeb Banerjee wrote to the Union Cabinet secretary on December 1, taking exception to the “vehicle impressment exercise” conducted by the Army at Vidyasagar Setu toll plaza, less than a kilometer from Nabanna. “This is highly objectionable,” Banerjee said in the letter.
Army claimed that it had a joint reconnaissance with the state police
Army officials claimed that state government’s reaction was shocking because Army personnel carried out a joint reconnaissance with two inspectors of Kolkata Police at
Vidyasagar Setu on November 27. “We mutually identified the locations and telephonically conveyed that the issue had been resolved”. This is how we conducted the exercise,” officiating General Officer Commanding (GOC), Bengal area, Sunil Yadav, said.
However, the joint inspection came two days after the additional commissioner of Police (III) Suprtim Sarkar wrote to the Army, advising against lifting out the exercise at the spot due to huge traffic volume and its nearness to the state secretariat that is a high-security zone.
The Army postponed the exercise to November 30 from November 20 account of the opposition’s anti-demonetisation protest, following the request from Kolkata Police. Mamata Banerjee expressed her gratitude to the opposition who backed her cause in parliament. She even said that the government’s reply regarding the issue was misleading and full of misinformation, it was a full concocted story. At last, she said, it has happened in Bengal because we are with the people.