What coup? Army rebuts, Mamata charges
- Army has denied the allegation with "contempt."
- The deployment of army at toll booth was a routine exercise
- The local police had been informed.
Army on Friday 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."
"Allegations of collection of money by Army personnel are also totally baseless," the officiating GOC Bengal Area said.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in parliament that he was "shocked and hurt" by the way Army was being dragged into controversy because of what he called Mamata Banerjee's "political frustration."
Mamata had alleged on Thursday 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 on Friday night, he said.
The army coup allegations has come just hours after the West Bengal CM alleged that there was assassination plot against her. The controversy broke after Banerjee alleged that the "low fuel" incident during her flight was an act of sabotage.
The airline, however, in a statement said the air traffic controller “misunderstood” that the plane carrying Banerjee was low on fuel after the pilot radioed that the aircraft had eight minutes of extra holding fuel over Kolkata.
Tthe Trinamool Congress but has remained unconvinced and raised the issue in Parliament. A letter also has been shot off to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju. Regulator DGCA has now ordered an inquiry into the incident of three flights, including the IndiGo flight carrying Banerjee, reporting low fuel at the same time.