Bharatiya Janata Party president in West Bengal Dilip Ghosh on Sunday warned that people supporting undocumented immigrants would be sent back to Bangladesh along with “lungi-clad infiltrators”, Hindustan Times reported. The lungi is a garment worn around the waist in South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, and was a derogatory reference to Muslims.
“Hindus were driven out of Bangladesh in the hundreds and thousands,” Ghosh said at a pro-Citizenship Amendment Act rally in Barasat in North 24 Parganas district. “Why is [Chief Minister] Mamata Banerjee opposing granting of citizenship to these victims of religious persecution? On the other hand, the infiltrators are eating away our share of government benefits and the Trinamool Congress and the Left are facilitating them to do this.”
Ghosh said the BJP would not allow “one crore infiltrators” to live in West Bengal. “And concerning those standing by these infiltrators, we will send back the interest along with the principal,” he added.
In response, Trinamool Congress Secretary General and state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee sarcastically compared Ghosh to Hindu deity Lakshmi. He said the more Ghosh spoke, the better it was for the Trinamool Congress.
“This loudmouth has nothing else to offer other than big talk and hate speeches,” said junior state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Tapas Roy. “He should be ashamed of himself.”
On Saturday, Ghosh had claimed that intellectuals who do not show their documents to the government during the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens would soon be unable to show their faces in public, PTI reported. On Friday, Ghosh had called those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens “termites”.
“These days there are so many intellectuals in West Bengal giving ‘gyan’ to people throughout the day and creating a cacophony,” the BJP leader said at a rally in Howrah. “Communist Party of India (Marxist) created these intellectuals by bringing them on to the streets and now, ‘didimoni’ [Mamata Banerjee] has created a factory to produce them.”
Ghosh claimed that everyone taking to the streets against the citizenship law was being described as an intellectual. “They [intellectuals] are saying that they will not show the papers…but I am saying that the days are not far away when they will not be in a position even to show their faces,” he added.
Last week, actors Dhritiman Chatterjee, Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Konkona Sen Sharma, Nandana Sen and Swastika Mukherjee, director Suman Mukhopadhyay and singer Rupam Islam were among the 12 personalities who had released a video clip in which they said: “Kagoj amra dekhabo na [we won’t show papers].”
On Friday, Ghosh termed these public figures “creatures”, “devils” and “parasites”. “Some creatures called intellectuals have come out on the streets of Kolkata,” the BJP leader added. “These parasitic intellectuals, who live and enjoy out of other’s pockets, where were they when our predecessors were tortured in Bangladesh?”
Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC
The Citizenship Amendment Act 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. Twenty-six people died in last month’s protests against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam.
The BJP has refused to cede ground to the protestors, who have demanded a rollback of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed NRC. The citizens’ register is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented immigrants, and the government’s critics fear that since a religion criterion has now been added to the Citizenship Act, only Muslims will be disproportionately affected by NRC.