Mamata to hold protests against Citizenship Act

The West Bengal CM also expresses concern over India-Bangladesh relations

December 14, 2019 01:24 am | Updated 01:38 am IST - Kolkata

Protesters set fire to a train at the Beldanga station in Murshidabad district of West Bengal on Friday.

Protesters set fire to a train at the Beldanga station in Murshidabad district of West Bengal on Friday.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced a series of protests in the State against the passage of the Citizenship Act and expressed concern over the turn India-Bangladesh relations have taken after the passage of the legislation.

The Chief Minister cited the cancellation of the visit of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Ministers from Bangladesh and noted that the developments were a “matter of shame for the country”.

“What turn has our relations with Bangladesh taken? Since the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, we have had good relations with them. Whenever they come to our country, the first thing they always do is praise the Indian government and people. And we never call Sheikh Hasina communal. She is Bangabandhu’s daughter. We all love her,” she told journalists.

Ms. Banerjee said that on Monday there would be a protest organised by her party from the statue of B.R. Ambedkar, Red Road to Jorasanko Thakurbari. A similar protest would be organised on Tuesday in South Kolkata Jadavpur 8 Bus Terminus to Jadubabu Bazar in Bhawinpore. She urged people from all political parties other than the BJP to join the rally.

She reiterated that her government would not allow the implementation of the Act. “In West Bengal, our government won’t do it. No NRC, no Act … They say they will forcibly implement the Act and the NRC [National Register of Citizens]. I would like to state categorically again that the NRC and the Citizenship Act won’t be implemented.”

Meanwhile, after days of peaceful protests against the Act, the situation turned violent in certain parts of State like Beldanga in Murshidabad and Uluberia in Howrah district. Protesters attacked a railway station. In some areas, protesters burnt tyres disrupting traffic on national highways. In Kolkata, a protest rally was organised by multiple minority organisations.

Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar urged people to believe in the rule of law and avoid violence.

The Chief Minister called a meeting of senior police and administrative officials at the Secretariat. Earlier, Ms. Banerjee appealed for democratic protests against the contentious legislation.

“Regarding the NRC and the Act also, we tried to reason with them. We tried to bell the cat. They need to understand that all States have various sentiments. Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Punjab all have their sentiments. We told them not to play with fire,” Ms. Banerjee said, adding that the Act and the NRC were all the same.

Cancels Delhi visit

The Chief Minister said she had cancelled her visit to Delhi on December 17. “ It will not be proper for me to leave my State. Bangladesh is on our border. They are very sad and shocked. Assam is also on our border. It is on the boil. Tripura also.”

Ms. Banerjee said she had congratulated all parties that had taken a stand against the Act. “Let us all build a people’s movement across India by using all our strength. Punjab, Kerala all should start a mass movement.”

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