Army on Thursday night said they are 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,” a statement by 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. Kolkata Police, however, said they have raised objection to this Army exercise due to security reasons and traffic problem.
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“Army exercise at Toll Plaza was objected to in writing by Kolkata Police, citing security reasons & traffic inconvenience,” the city police said in a twitter message on Thursday night. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Army was deployed at toll plazas in different places in the state without informing the state government and termed it as “unprecedented and a very serious matter”. She further said “Whatever reason they are giving is not correct. They are lying. They are changing their reasons time to time. The MHA has the complete data of the vehicles moving in different states in the country”.
Earlier, a defence spokesperson said that the Army conducts bi-ennial 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.