The West Bengal government on Sunday suspended internet services in Malda, Murshidabad, Uttar Dinajpur, Howrah and some areas in South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas, in an effort to stem violence protests against the amendments to the Citizenship Act escalated, the Hindustan Times reported. Police contingents were rushed to the troubled areas to control the situation.
Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from Nadia, North 24 Parganas and Howrah districts of West Bengal, PTI reported. Protestors blocked roads in Amdanga and Kalyani areas of Nadia and North 24 Parganas districts, the police said. They also blocked railway tracks in many parts of the two districts. In Domjur area in Howrah district, demonstrators blocked roads and shouted slogans against the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.
“We would appeal to everybody to maintain calm and peace,” senior Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said. “We can assure you that the law won’t be implemented in Bengal.”
However, West Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Sayantan Basu accused the ruling party of doing little to control the violence.
The Trinamool Congress organised rallies across the state on Sunday to oppose the legislation, PTI reported. Several senior party leaders, including ministers, led rallies in various districts. However, they also asked people to maintain peace and abstain from violence.
Trinamool Congress leaders shouted slogans against the Narendra Modi-led government and demanded that the amended law be immediately scrapped. “We want this divisive Citizenship Act to be immediately scrapped,” Chatterjee said. “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.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has opposed the law, will hit the streets of Kolkata on Monday in protest against the Act.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, meanwhile, asked people to maintain peace, ANI reported. However, he also targeted the Trinamool Congress government. “I am sure the chief minister will at least withdraw advertisements, they are unconstitutional and it is criminal use of public funds,” he said. Dhankhar was referring to advertisements put up by the Trinamool Congress stating that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens exercise will not be implemented in West Bengal.
The contentious amendments to the bill allow citizenship to persecuted people of six religious communities – but not Muslims – from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014. The amendments were approved by both Houses of Parliament this week and were signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday night.
Large-scale protests have rocked much of the North East over the past few days, with Assam being the worst affected. At least five people have died so far in clashes between the police and protestors in Assam. The northeastern states fear that the implementation of the law will lead to an erosion of their ethnic identities.