Reacting on the recent episode of deployment of Army at toll plazas in Bengal “without informing the state government”, Major General R Nagraj, MGGS, Eastern Command, said: “There is no change in the working relations with the state government”.
Maj Gen Nagraj said this in the sidelines of a programme organised by the Indian Army on Monday to announce its curriculum for the forthcoming Vijay Divas.
When asked whether the recent controversy has left any adverse effects, he said: “We maintain a good contact at the local level and no change was noticed in the working relation.”
The statement comes within two days after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit back at the Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar giving a reply to his letter. In the reply, Banerjee had clearly stated that her complaint was not against the Army and it was against the Centre and its policy. Parikkar wrote to Banerjee saying that her allegations against the army had “adversely impact” their morale.
When asked about the allegation of taking money by some Army jawans at toll gates, Maj Gen Nagraj said: “The Army is a powerful organisation. We do not tolerate such incidents.’
He further said: “There is no information with us that they were collecting money. This is not in the ethos of the Indian Army.”
In a press conference that the Indian Army held on December 2, the day after the Chief Minister had said that the Army had been deployed without informing the state government, Maj Gen Sunil Yadav, GOC Bengal Area, had brushed aside the allegations.
Yadav had maintained that a probe would be conducted if any video footage featuring an Army jawan taking money from truck drivers is found.
It may be recalled that the Chief Minister had stayed back in the state secretariat Nabanna on December 1, as the Army had been deployed at Vidyasagar Setu toll plaza, which is within 100 metres of the state secretariat. The jawans at the toll plaza were withdrawn at midnight, citing the reason “they (the jawans) were there for around 36 hours and were withdrawn after the military exercise was complete”.
Army spokespersons had claimed that the Army conducts annual exercise throughout the county in similar manner, with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the Army in case of a contingency.