On 2 December, a day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the presence of army personnel in her state, without her information, was in violation of the Constitution, and labelled it a "coup-like situation", Major General Sunil Yadav issued clarifications on the same, labelling it as a "routine annual data collection exercise".
While addressing a press conference, General Sunil Yadav said the allegations being levelled against the Army by the West Bengal Chief Minister were baseless. He also denied charges that the Army was collecting money from people at the toll counters in WB.
"This is an exercise carried out for our operational purposes," the General said, adding, "Army formations in Eastern command at local levels are carrying out routine annual data collection exercises on availability of load carriers at all major entry points in various states, in coordination with local police authorities."
Army formations in Eastern command at local levels are carrying out routine annual data collection exercises: Major General Sunil Yadav— ANI (@ANI_news) December 2, 2016
General Sunil Yadav further clarified that the exercise in question involves collection of data in all North Eastern states, including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and Sikkim.
The general also talked of over 80 such collection data points that have been established in the entire region, with about 5-6 army unarmed personnel deployed at each point.
"They're only collecting data of heavy vehicles," the General said.
The General said that the Chief Minister's allegations are baseless, adding that a similar exercise had been carried out in the states of Jharkhand, UP and Bihar between 26 September and 1 October, 2016.
They're only collecting data of heavy vehicles,this is an annual exercise carried out every year:Major Gen Sunil Yadav on WB army deployment pic.twitter.com/vX5LCpiIPR— ANI (@ANI_news) December 2, 2016