Citizens will become refugees from the moment they apply via the CAA portal, says Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister said the CAA would take away rights and lead people to detention camps; State BJP leaders said none will lose their citizenship over the CAA

March 12, 2024 04:08 pm | Updated 06:40 pm IST - Barasat (West Bengal)

West Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee.

West Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee. | Photo Credit: ANI

Raising the pitch against the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said that the moment someone applied through the portal, they ceased to be a citizen and became a refugee.

Ms. Banerjee’s remarks came a day after the Union Home Ministry notified the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024 under which applicants have to apply through a portal, provide six types of documents, and specify the ‘date of entry’ into India. The Central government on March 12 launched a new portal for people applying for citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019.

The West Bengal CM said she doubted if the rules were valid. “The CAA rules, which the Centre has declared, I doubt if they are valid. There is no clarity and it is total bluff. Let me ask some questions. Those who are being asked to apply, the moment they apply, from becoming citizens they will become illegal refugees. What will happen to your properties, your jobs and the studies of your children? Everything will be declared illegal,” Ms. Banerjee said, addressing a gathering in the North 24 Parganas district.

Ms. Banerjee was speaking at Habra, not far from Thakurnagar, headquarters of the All India Matua Mahasangha. The Matuas, a community of Hindu Namasudhras who migrated from Bangladesh, have been demanding that the rules of the CAA, 2019 be framed at the earliest. The Trinamool Congress chairperson claimed that the CAA was not aimed at giving rights but taking them away, and would lead people to detention camps.

Ms. Banerjee raised the issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and said that 19 lakh people had been excluded from the NRC, out of which 13 lakh were Hindus. “The BJP’s game is to divide Hindus, divide Muslims,” she said, adding that the CAA would lead to the NRC and “detention camps”. 

“We will not allow any detention camp in West Bengal. We will not allow any NRC in West Bengal. We will not let anyone be deprived of their rights,” she said.

Addressing another public meeting at Siliguri later on Tuesday, Ms. Banerjee spoke at length on the CAA rules and said that the rules will create problems in issuing caste certificates.

Meanwhile, even as the Chief Minister was expressing fears over the CAA, Matuas joined in the celebration at Thakurnagar over the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024.

Shantanu Thakur, BJP MP from Bongaon and a descendant of the founding family of the Matua sect, asked “who is Mamata Banerjee to raise questions?” about the “struggle of three generations by our forefathers”.

“She has lost her mind on CAA. The BJP will win all the 42 seats in the State,” the BJP MP said.

Leaders of the BJP in West Bengal, including Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Suvendu Adhikari, and State BJP president Sukanata Majumdar, said that none would lose their citizenship over the CAA. 

The CAA, passed in 2019, grants citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. While the Matuas have welcomed CAA, there have been concerns among sections of the Muslim community about the citizenship law. West Bengal had witnessed violence and arson from December 13 to 17, 2019 during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

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