The West Bengal Assembly on Monday became the fourth state legislature to pass a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act, PTI reported. The amendments, cleared by Parliament last month and notified on January 10, have been strongly opposed by states ruled by parties not part of the National Democratic Alliance.
Left-ruled Kerala and Congress-led Punjab and Rajasthan have already passed similar resolutions demanding the withdrawal of the law. The West Bengal Assembly had already passed a resolution against the National Population Register on December 16 and another against the National Register of Citizens in September.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the amended Citizenship Act was “against the Constitution and humanity”. She said: “We want this law to be repealed immediately. We want NPR to also be repealed.” The resolution was reportedly supported by the Opposition Congress and the Communist Party of India-led Left Front.
Banerjee said the anti-CAA protests were “not only of minorities” and thanked “Hindu brothers” for also leading them. She said that her administration will not allow the amended Act, NPR, and NRC to be implemented in the state.
“We will fight peacefully,” Banerjee said while addressing the state Assembly, NDTV reported. “As per the CAA, you have to become a foreigner to become a citizen... this is a terrible game, pushing people towards death. Don’t fall into their trap.”
The chief minister claimed that people were scared that they might have to leave the country and that they were standing in queues “for all kinds of cards”. “The label of doubtful citizens, detention centers... is unacceptable,” Banerjee said. “The way things are, it was better not to have been born.”
She also criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party and accused it of always bringing up “Pakistan and less of Hindustan” and described the saffron party as “Brand Ambassadors of Pakistan”.
States such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Bihar have said they will not implement the Citizenship Amendment Act or the population and citizen registers. BJP ally Janata Dal (United) is in power in Bihar.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 and notified on January 10, 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, leading to protests against it. At least 26 persons, including 19 people in Uttar Pradesh alone, died during clashes between the police and those protesting against the Act last month.
The National Register of Citizens is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented immigrants. One such exercise, carried out in Assam last year, resulted in the exclusion of 19 lakh people. As first reported by Scroll.in, the National Population Register is the first step to creating NRC. While the Narendra Modi administration has claimed that the new citizenship law will not take away anyone’s citizenship, the government’s critics fear that the amended law and the National Register of Citizens will be misused to target Muslims since the Citizenship Act now has religion as a criterion.