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US personnel arrive for air exercises amid protests
Subhrangshu Gupta

Kolkata, November 4
The government has decided to go ahead with joint exercises planned between the Air Forces of India and the US from November 7, despite opposition from Left parties.

The US air force personnel landing at the Netaji International Airport at Dum Dum today were greeted with demonstrations and ‘go back slogans’ by angry CPI(M) workers and supporters.

They staged sit-in demonstrations in front of the airport and raised slogans against Indo-US arms treaties, which, they alleged, were affecting the country’s national interest.

The demonstration was led by the local CPI(M) MP, Mr Amitava Nandi. The CPI(M) workers also demonstrated before a hotel near the airport where the US air force personnel are staying.

However, there was no obstruction to the landing of the US air forces planes and the journey of the air force personnel from the airport to the hotel. Similar demonstrations would be continued by the CPI(M) in the next few days.

This was the first batch of the US air force team arriving in Kolkata to participate in the 10-day Indo-US joint military exercises beginning at the Kalaikunda air base in Midnapore from November 7 as part of the recent arms treaties between the two countries, which the CPI(M) and other Left parties have opposed.

The CPI(M) leadership and other Left parties supporting the UPA government from outside have been demanding rescinding of the Indo-US arms treaties and stopping the joint military exercises but the Cabinet at an emergency meeting in the Capital today rejected the demand.

The Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, claimed the joint military exercises were a routine matter which would serve the country’s larger interest. He said he had talked to the state Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, today and had been assured of adequate safety and security for the joint exercises.

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