Other States

Anti-Citizenship Act protests: Violence spreads in Bengal, Internet off in six districts

Police attempt to disperse protesters during a demonstration against passing of Citizenship Amendment Act in Howrah, West Bengal.

Police attempt to disperse protesters during a demonstration against passing of Citizenship Amendment Act in Howrah, West Bengal.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Kolkata too witnessed road blockade and disruption in traffic movement over the last few days.

Violence continued in West Bengal on Sunday despite repeated appeals by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for peace. From parts of Howrah, Murshidabad and adjacent areas of Kolkata, the protest spread to Nadia, North 24 Paraganas and parts of Bardhaman. Internet services were stopped in six districts. 

Officials said the violence was “largely sporadic”, confined to setting fire to vehicles and damaging a few trains and shops. 

Parties trade charges

BJP State unit president Dilip Ghosh blamed the Chief Minister “for protecting Bangladeshi extremist Muslims who instigated violence”. Ruling Trinamool leaders said the BJP was organising “extremist Muslims”.

Many hundreds of protesters burnt tyres and blocked roads at Raghunathganj in Murshidabad, Kamdevpur and Amdanga in North 24 Paraganas for long hours with no policemen in sight. At Kamdebpur, the agitators could be seen heating food on wooden logs set ablaze. 

At Manikgram station in Murshidabad, a railway police vehicle was set on fire. Many trains, particularly those connecting south India, were delayed or terminated.

Understanding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

“Outsiders are conspiring to instigate communal violence in the State,” a government statement said.

Movement of local trains was affected at many places by “people agitating on the railway tracks,” the statement said. Two trains were damaged at Akra on Sealdah-Budge Budge line adjacent to Kolkata. People demonstrated at Nungi, next to Akra; the trains were stopped for long hours between Barasat-Hasnabad of Sealdah Division. Train movement under Diamond Harbour Section under Sealdah was also affected. Many express lines have been stopped such as Delhi to Dibrugarh Brahmaputra express. There was an outcry from the distressed passengers who were seen crowded in the Kharagpur Station in station master’s officer office to protest the late and cancelled trains.

Later in the day, senior leaders participated in multiple rallies brought out by TMC against the Citizenship Act. Carrying posters and placards, TMC members shouted slogans against the BJP government and demanded that the new Act be scrapped.

 

"We want this divisive Citizenship Act to be immediately scrapped. Our state government has already said that it will not be implemented in Bengal, so we appeal to the people not to take law into their hands, and protest peacefully," senior TMC leader and education minister Partha Chatterjee said. However, a section of TMC leaders also are apprehensive about making an issue out of Citizenship Act. A south Kolkata councilor told The Hindu that there are very few Muslims in his ward and thus “it may not be wise to rally for a long time blocking vehicles.” Ms Banerjee will hit the streets from Monday in protest the law and participate in multiple rallies over next 72 hours.

With inputs from PTI

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 7:59:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/internet-services-cut-in-some-bengal-districts-as-anti-citizenship-act-protest-continues/article30311636.ece

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