West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Thursday spent the night at her office to demand removal of army deployment at toll plazas in West Bengal terming such deployments a 'military coup'. She is scheduled to meet the President Pranab Mukherjee over the issue on Friday.
After a high drama over “deployment of army” at certain toll plazas in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee decided to stay put at the state secretariat ‘Nabanna’ for the Thursday night, even after the force was removed from a toll plaza near it as per her demand.
“I am the custodian of common people. So I can’t leave them insecured. I will stay put here for the whole night and observe the situation,” Banerjee told reporters at around 1.30 AM on Friday.
(Read full time line of the high intensity drama here)
About her demand that she would leave the office only when Armymen were removed from the second Hooghly bridge toll plaza near Nabanna, she said, “These people may have gone. But they are there in 18 other districts.”
Sometime before her press meet, journalists went to the toll plaza near Nabanna and found that the Armymen were no longer there.
Also read | Mamata protests presence of soldiers at West Bengal toll plazas; Army terms it routine exercise
A temporary shed set up for them was also removed.
There was no official version of the Army about the removal.
Accusing the Centre of deploying the Army at toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government, Banerjee had refused to leave the office till the Armymen were withdrawn from the toll plaza at second Hooghly bridge.
The Army said they were conducting routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination with West Bengal police.
“Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect,” the Eastern command said on Twitter.
“Routine exercise in all NE states. In Assam@18 places, Arunanchal@13, WB@19, Manipur@6, Nagaland@5, Meghalaya@5, Tripura & Mizoram@1”, it said.
The Kolkata police, however, said they have raised objection to this Army exercise due to security reasons and traffic problem.
“Army exercise at toll plaza was objected to in writing by Kolkata Police, citing security reasons & traffic inconvenience,” the city police said on Twitter.
The drama unfolded in the evening when Banerjee alleged that Army deployment was done in toll plazas without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation worse than Emergency”.
She claimed that people got panicky due to deployment of Army at toll plazas.