West Bengal: Amit Shah’s chopper denied permission to land at Malda airstrip

BJP chief Amit Shah is scheduled to address a rally in Malda on Tuesday.
BJP chief Amit Shah is scheduled to address a rally in Malda on Tuesday.

Citing upgradation of work, the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government denied permission to the state BJP to land party president Amit Shah’s chopper at the Malda airstrip ahead of his rally on Tuesday, news agency ANI reported. The government, however, said the helicopter could land at the ground opposite Hotel Golden Park.

Responding to the BJP’s request in a letter dated January 18, the additional district magistrate said, "Up-gradation work at Malda airport going on. Sand and material lying around. Airport not suitable for safe landing of the helicopter. Permission not possible."

However, questioning the decision, the BJP asked how was the helipad being used by the ruling Trinamool Congress government. In a letter dated January 18, the BJP general secretary asked, "Malda Airport is used by the West Bengal government to land their helicopter every Wednesday. You are saying that Malda airport is not suitable for safe landing, then why you are allowing the helicopter of the Bengal government?"

Hitting out at the chief minister Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Mamata’s helicopter had landed at the same helipad a few days ago. Some journalists had gone there. I have pictures to show how neat and clean the helipad is. By denying permission to Shah, she has abused her power."

Responding to the allegations, the CM later told reporters, "Permission has been given but there are security issues. Police had said that the chopper should land at some other place. I also change my chopper’s landing on their request. We have granted permission for meeting as we believe in democracy. They (BJP) are distorting information and misleading people."

Last week, the BJP had submitted a fresh application before the government, seeking permission to hold a 'Ganatantra Bachao Yatra', after it failed to get clearance from the Supreme Court for its proposed rath yatra. The Ganatantra Bachao Yatra, the party said, will "not have any religious undertone" after the apex court allowed it to organise rallies and meetings across the state.

Shah, who was diagnosed with swine flu, was discharged from AIIMS in the national capital on Sunday.