West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday dared the Bharatiya Janata Party to replicate Assam’s National Register of Citizens in her state, reported PTI. “If BJP touches even one person in Bengal in the name of NRC, we will teach them a lesson,” said Banerjee as she led a rally in Kolkata to protest against the exercise in Assam.
More than 19 lakh people have been excluded from the final list of the updated citizens’ database in Assam, which was published on August 31.
Banerjee’s rally started from Sinthee More in North Kolkata around 3 pm, and will end at Shyambazar five-point crossing. The party had organised rallies in other parts of the state on September 7 and September 8.
Banerjee said the NRC was a tool to divide people. “Those trying to divide people in the name of NRC are playing with fire,” she added. “For the sake of religion, for the sake of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, I don’t agree with NRC.”
The chief minister asked why people needed to give proof of their identity after over 70 years of Independence. “You won’t be able to shut Bengal’s mouth as you did in Assam by using your police,” she said, according to ANI. “Suddenly, you are teaching us religion as if we don’t celebrate Eid, Durga Puja, Muharram and Chhath Puja.”
The saffron party’s state unit President Dilip Ghosh claimed that Banerjee’s administration was protecting more than one crore Rohingyas and Bangladeshi Muslims. He said Banerjee would “soon get to see how the BJP implements NRC in Bengal”.
“In the last few years, around two crore Rohingya and Bangaldeshi Muslims have entered the state illegally,” PTI quoted Ghosh as saying. “Of that, one crore have moved to other parts of the country and the rest resides in Bengal under TMC government’s protection.” He said they would be thrown out of Bengal by the BJP.
BJP leaders, including party chief Amit Shah, have time and again promised to replicate the NRC in West Bengal as well if the party is voted to power. The stated aim of the NRC was to separate genuine Indian citizens from “illegal migrants” who might be living in Assam.
However, Assam’s final list found critics in the BJP itself with state Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and the state unit president Ranjit Dass rejecting it. While Sarma has said that the Supreme Court should allow re-verification of the names on the list, Dass said that the party did not trust the final list.
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