Citizenship Amendment Act: Protests across West Bengal; 5 trains set on fire, properties vandalised

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Violent protests against the Citizenship Act have rocked several parts of the state; Mamata Banerjee says the state will not implement the law in West Bengal

A train set on fire at Beldanga Station in Murshidabad district.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from several districts of West Bengal on Sunday as people protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Protestors vandalised properties at three railway stations and set five trains on fire in the state. In Amdanga and Kalyani areas of North 24 Parganas and Nadia, protestors blocked roads and streets. Areas such as Deganga, Domjur, Burdwan and Birbhum also witnessed protests against the CAA.

Protestors shouted slogans against the ruling BJP government and burnt effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Protests against the Citizenship Act have rocked parts of the state, with agitators torching buses, trains, railways stations and vandalising public property.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the state would not implement the law. “Let there be no misunderstanding. Don’t fall in the communal provocation. There will be no amended Citizenship Act or NRC in West Bengal,” Mamata said in a video message.

Blaming Trinamool Congress for violence, BJP president Dilip Ghosh said it was she who taught people to indulge in violence. “Mamata Banerjee is the one who taught people to indulge in violent protests so who will pay heed to her appeal? When they were not her vote bank, she had raised her voice against illegal infiltration. If the state government wanted they could have stopped this, but they don’t want it. It’s evident from the way their leaders are speaking. Mamata Banerjee and her party leaders are provoking people. Bengal is burning for two days and nothing is being done,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.

Senior TMC leader and state education minister Partha Chatterjee assured the protesters the amended Act would not be implemented in the state. “We would appeal to everybody to maintain calm and peace. We can assure you that law won’t be implemented in Bengal,” Chatterjee said. West Bengal BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu accused the ruling TMC of doing little to control the control deteriorating law and order situation.

President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday gave his assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, turning it into an Act. According to the Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha on Wednesday and by Lok Sabha on Monday. The Act says the refugees of the six communities will be given Indian citizenship after residing in India for five years, instead of earlier requirement of 11 years. The Act also proposes to give immunity to such refugees facing legal cases after being found as illegal migrants.

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