The youth wing of the Trinamool Congress and the Left Front in West Bengal kept up their protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrived in Kolkata on Saturday, and met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Modi is on a two-day visit of the state.
“It was a courtesy call since he has come to Bengal,” NDTV quoted Banerjee as saying. “I told the Prime Minister that people of the state are not accepting the NPR [National Population Register], NRC [National Register of Citizens], and CAA. I asked him to rethink these steps.”
The Trinamool Congress’ youth wing, the All India Trinamool Youth Congress, began a dharna against the government’s proposed moves on Friday at Rani Rashmoni Road in the city.
Earlier in the afternoon, Modi was received at the Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport by West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim, and state Bharatiya Janata Party chief Dilip Ghosh, among others, NDTV reported. He will attend the sesquicentennial celebrations of Kolkata Port Trust, and spend time at Ramkrishna Mission. Banerjee and Modi will share the dais at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, where Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar will also be present.
The prime minister will also dedicate to the country four refurbished heritage buildings in Kolkata – the Old Currency Building, Belvedere House, Metcalfe House and the Victoria Memorial Hall.
Meanwhile, Left Front activists staged protests in various parts of the North 24 Parganas district against the citizenship law. The activists, carrying placards with “Go Back Modi” written on them, took out rallies in Dum Dum, just 1.5 km from the airport. “We will continue our protest unless and until the Act is withdrawn,” said an unidentified protestor. “We don’t want Narendra Modi to come to Kolkata as it will vitiate the atmosphere of our state.”
The Centre on Friday evening notified the Citizenship Amendment Act. In its notification, the Modi-led government said the Act would come into effect from Friday.
The Congress, meanwhile, accused Banerjee of having a tacit understanding with Modi, Hindustan Times reported. “She boycotted the all-party meeting against citizenship law that Sonia Gandhi convened in Delhi on January 13 but fixed an appointment with Modi on January 11,” said state Congress President Somen Mitra. “Her real intentions are out in the open.”
Banerjee had said she would boycott the meeting because of a trade union strike in West Bengal on Wednesday turned violent. The Congress had backed the Left’s strike call.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 and signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on December 13, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. At least 26 people died in last month’s protests against the citizenship law. Of these, 19 died in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.
The National Population Register is “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”, according to the Census of India website. The citizens’ register, meanwhile, is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented migrants. Last month, Union Home Minister Amit Shah claimed there was no link between the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Register of Citizens and the NPR.