Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has written a strong letter to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, in which he explained he is “deeply pained” over her allegations against the Army for its recent exercise at the toll gates in Bengal.
In his letter, he described the Army’s Eastern Command in West Bengal carried out the exercise to collect information on the movement of heavy vehicles at toll gates from December 1 and 2.
He said if the CM had enquired with the state agencies of the state government then she would know about the extensive correspondence between the Army and the state agencies, including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them.
Parrikar averred the exercised were carried out throughout the country for many years as per the dates convenient to the Army in consultation with agencies of the state government.
“I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the agencies concerned of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the Army and the state agencies including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them.”
Parrikar further said, “Your allegations in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country’s armed forces. The same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life.”
He asserted politicians and political parties “may have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other”, but a person should be very careful when referring the country’s armed forces. “I am sure you would appreciate this.”
Mamata Banerjee who has been opposing the demonetisation move, last week accused the Centre that it deployed Army at toll plazas without informing the state government. She described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation worse than Emergency”. She alleged the Army exercise was done because she spoke out against demonetisation.
She asked whether it was an “Army coup” and also refused to leave her office in Kolkata till the Centre withdrawn the Army from toll plazas.
Parrikar described the Indian Army as the “most disciplined institution of the country” and the nation is proud of their “professionalism and apolitical conduct”.