KOLKATA: A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s plane hovered above the Kolkata airport with fuel allegedly for just eight minutes, after which she accused the Centre of trying to kill her, Army personnel were deployed in the state on Thursday without “informing her”.
“We knew the country is undergoing economic emergency unleashed by demonetisation. Now the states are being hounded by the Centre for not falling in line... Even when the Army is deployed to deal with communal tensions, states are informed. Why was the state not informed in this instance?” said the Trinamool Congress chief, after Army personnel were posted at three toll plazas near Kolkata. She termed the move as a “general emergency”.
Past 2 a.m., Banerjee, holding her third round of media conference since the evening, reiterated she would spend the night at Nabanna, fearing the Army may be back.
She refused to leave the state secretariat till Army personnel were removed from the toll gate at the Vidyasagar Setu, just a stone’s throw from the secretariat. More army deployment in different Bengal districts Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Darjeeling, Barrackpur, N24Pgs, Howrah, Hooghly, Kolkata, Murshidabad Burdwan,” she tweeted.
"The army has withdrawn from the second Hooghly Bridge after 2 am. They will definitely come back. After Nabanna, they have entered various districts. The army has been deployed in 80 per cent of the areas," she said.
"I'll remain awake all night to keep vigil. I will spend the night at Nabanna," she said.
... I am waiting here at the Secretariat and watching, to guard our democracy 2/2— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) December 1, 2016
Until and unless the Army stationed in front of Nabanno, the Bengal state govt secretariat, is withdrawn 1/2— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) December 1, 2016
The riveting drama unfolded on Thursday evening, when Banerjee alleged the army has been deployed at the Dankuni and Palsit toll plazas on National Highway 2 (connecting Delhi and Kolkata) without informing the state government.
Armymen were seen noting down numbers of freight carriers at the Palsit toll plaza in Burdwan, Dankuni toll plaza in Hooghly and the Vidyasagar Setu in Howrah district.
However, terming the deployment as a “routine exercise”, Army spokesperson S S Virdi said. “The police and the district magistrates were informed. This exercise was done to know the statistics of number of load carriers available that may be of use to the Army in the times of emergency”.
But Kolkata Police on the other hand, went on record to tweet that they had objected to the deployment in writing.
Army excercise at Toll Plaza was objected to in writing by Kolkata Police, citing security reasons & traffic inconvenience.@easterncomd— Kolkata Police (@KolkataPolice) December 1, 2016
Meanwhile, IndiGo and the air traffic control officials engaged in a war of words over the flight’s “stranding”. IndiGo said the pilot had said they had fuel just enough to circle above the skies for 8 minutes before moving to the Bhubaneswar airport if the runway was not free.
The communiqué was misinterpreted as only 8 minutes of fuel was left on the plane. ATC authorities said that the communiqué was sent to DGCA for investigation.