West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said the Citizenship Amendment Act would not be implemented in the state as long as she was alive, PTI reported. Banerjee said detention centres would not be built in the state.
“As long as I am alive, CAA will not be implemented in Bengal,” said the Trinamool Congreess chief while inaugurating a fair in Naihati in North 24 Parganas district, Hindustan Times reported. “They are saying they would set up detention camps. Who is in power? We are. I am ready to give my life. I won’t allow the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] to set up detention camps even if I die.”
Banerjee claimed detention camps had been set up in Assam as the BJP was in power in the state. “If they are elected government, we are also elected government,” she added. “You have a right in Delhi, we have a right here.” She was referring to the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
The Trinamool Congress chief claimed that the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act would turn Indians into foreigners. She alleged that after being declared foreigners, Indians would have to apply to become citizens.
Banerjee also accused the BJP of raising funds to provide “cards”, but did not clarify what she meant. “To provide ‘cards’ they have collected money in many places,” the chief minister alleged. “I know it is the BJP.”
Banerjee backed students’ right to protest against a “draconian law”. “The Centre is taking action against protesting students and is rusticating them from universities,” she alleged.
The chief minister told the audience that her government had stopped work on the National Population Register after realising the BJP’s intent. “When we got to know that it is linked to singling out bonafide citizens of the country, we stopped the exercise in Bengal,” Banerjee adpopded, referring to the link between the population register and the proposed National Register of Citizens.
On Tuesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had denied any link between the two. However, Opposition parties quickly accused him of lying, saying he had contradicted statements made by him and the government in the past. Shah also said he would convince West Bengal and Kerala to restart work on the population register.
Banerjee accused the Modi government of pitting different Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes against each other. The BJP government was also trying to divide people on ethnic and religious grounds, she alleged.
How Citizenship Act, NRC and NPR are linked
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious groups in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered India by December 31, 2014. It has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.
Meanwhile, the National Register of Citizens is meant to identify undocumented migrants. Till now, it has been conducted only in Assam, where 19 lakh people were excluded. The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved funds of more than Rs 3,900 crore to update the National Population Register, which is described by the Census of India as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”.