Mamata vows not to leave secretariat ‘ to guard our democracy’ until army is withdrawn


Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday vowed not to leave secretariat until the Centre’s Narendra Modi government withdrew army, deployed at toll plazas across West Bengal.

She tweeted, “Until and unless the Army stationed in front of Nabanno, the Bengal state govt secretariat, is withdrawn, I will be staying at my Secretariat to guard our democracy.”

“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.

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. 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in West Bengal without informing the state government, Banerjee had refused to leave the office till the Armymen were withdrawn from the toll plaza at second Hooghly bridge.

Banerjee had on Thursday alleged the deployment of army at two toll plazas at Palsit and Dankuni on NH 2 in West Bengal without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented and a serious matter.”

“Army has been deployed at two toll plazas without informing the state government. This is a very serious situation worse than Emergency,” she told reporters at the state secretariat.

“It is an attack on the federal structure. We want to know the details. The Chief Secretary is writing to the Centre. Given an opportunity I will talk to the President on the issue. Has Emergency been imposed in the country without declaration?” she wanted to know.

The Chief Minister said, “Army is our asset. We are proud of them. We requisition Army in times of major disaster or communal flare up.

“I don’t know what has actually happened. Even if there is mock-trial, state government is informed”, she said.

Banerjee claimed that the people got panicky due to the deployment of Army at toll plazas.

When contacted, A Defence spokesperson said that the army conducts bi-annual exercise throughout the country with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.

“There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander S S Birdi said.

The exercise gives an estimate about the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he said.

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