The Bharatiya Janata Party’s West Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh on Friday claimed the amended citizenship law would be first implemented in the state and that neither Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee nor or her party Trinamool Congress would be able to stop it.
The law will grant citizenship to persecuted non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan – all Muslim-majority nations – provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014.
Banerjee had announced a series of rallies in West Bengal to protest against the contentious law. She expressed concern over the turn India- Bangladesh relations have taken after the legislation and said the developments were a “matter of shame for the country”. The chief minister also reiterated that her government would not allow the implementation of the amended law “under any circumstances”.
“Earlier she had opposed the abrogation of Article 370, demonetisation, but that didn’t stop the Union government from implementing it,” Ghosh said. “In this case too, the new Citizenship Act would be implemented in the state. Bengal, for that matter, would be the first state where it would be implemented.”
Ghosh questioned why Banerjee was against the amendments to the law. “Is it because she is afraid of losing her vote bank in the state,” he asked. “Let us make one thing very clear, the Citizenship Act would be implemented in the state, neither Banerjee nor her party would be able to stop it.”
He claimed the chief minister was bothered about infiltrators, but not about Hindu refugees who have been looking forward to the legislation for the last several decades.
BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya accused Banerjee of “fuelling protests” in West Bengal by spreading misinformation about the law. “Why is Mamata Banerjee not taking action against the infiltrators who are behind the protests in Bengal,” he asked. “She is instigating masses to take law into their hands. If she is so concerned about the infiltrators, why doesn’t she say anything about Hindu refugees?”
The situation turned violent in the state on Friday as a railway station complex in Murshidabad district was set on fire. Protestors also blocked railway tracks at the Uluberia station in Howrah district and vandalised a few trains and the premises. Protests also spread to other parts of the country such as Delhi, Bihar and Tamil Nadu.
Two people were killed in Assam and 21 were injured as demands to withdraw the changes to the 1955 law were raised. The widespread fear in the North East is that populations defined as indigenous to the region will be culturally and physically overrun by migrants as a result of these changes.