Protests against National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the new citizenship law continued with sporadic incidents of vandalism at railway stations. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee issued a statement saying that action will be taken against those who destroy government properties.
However, the CM herself will lead several rallies against NRC and the new citizenship law in Kolkata from Monday.
“Please protest in a democratic way. Do not take law into your own hands. Do not block roads and rail lines. Those who are making trouble and taking law into their own hands will not be spared. We will take action against those who are setting fire to buses or pelting stones at trains,” Banerjee said in a statement on Saturday.
State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim told to mediapersons, “I appeal to all my friends that please do not strengthen BJP’s hand by spreading anarchy in the state. People in the state are suffering after roads are being blocked and buses set on fire. We will have to fight against the new citizenship law and NRC. Some people are instigating all this… Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has called for a rally against NRC and citizenship law. If you want to protest, join Mamata Banerjee.”
Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Saturday urged Banerjee to demonstrate her true faith and allegiance to the Constitution in the present situation. He tweeted, “.@MamataOfficial. Distressed and pained at events unfolding in the State. Chief Minister as per oath has to ‘bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India..’ and I as Governor will ‘to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law’.”
Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Saturday urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to demonstrate her true faith and allegiance to the Constitution in the present situation.
He tweeted, “.@MamataOfficial. Distressed and pained at events unfolding in the State. Chief Minister as per oath has to ‘bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India..’ and I as Governor will ‘to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law’.
Meanwhile, Banerjee’s appeal drew sharp reaction from opposition CPM, which said the state government failed to control the situation.
CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra alleged that the TMC “deliberately didn’t do anything to control the situation”.
“The violence is being deliberately instigated by both TMC and BJP to communally polarise the politics of Bengal,” Mishra said.
Protests and sporadic vandalism continued for the second day in several parts of the state. Agitators blocked Kona Expressway and National Highway 6 in Howrah at different places. At Salap in the Howrah district, protesters blocked road, burnt tyres and hurled stones at policemen who had to resort to lathicharge and lob tear gas shells to disperse the mob. At Kona Expressway, agitators set fire to 15 vehicles, including government buses and police jeeps.
In Howrah’s Sankrail station, protesters set the ticket counter on fire and damaged the signalling system.
In Murshidabad district, empty trains that were standing at Krishnapur station were set on fire by protesters on Saturday evening. According to sources, five trains were set on fire. However, the railway authorities are yet to officially confirm the numbers. Protesters also pelted stones at Shamshergunj police station and tried to ransack it, following which additional police personnel were deployed in the area. Protesters continued to ransack parts of the station and set the railway machinery on fire at Beldanga railway station.
Roads were blocked in different parts of Murshidabad, North and South 24 Parganas districts.
According to the railways authorities, train services were disrupted in a number of places across the state following protests. Several trains, including Howrah-Yesvantpur Duronto Express, Howrah-Digha Super AC Express, Howrah-Hyderabad East Coast, 12814 Tatanagar-Howrah Steel Express, Bhubaneswar-Howrah Janshatabdi Express, Lokmanya Tilak-Shalimar Express and Puri-Howrah-Shatabdi Express were halted at various stations.
Over 12 local trains were stopped and services of many express trains were terminated shortly.
Later in the day, the CM made a fresh appeal saying, “Once again I appeal to all not to resort to violence and disturb public order, tranquillity and peace. It must be kept in mind that police stations, railway stations, airports, post offices, government offices, public transport and likes are public property. Vandalising public as well as private property in any form will not be tolerated and will strictly be dealt according to law…”
Till 7 pm on Saturday, a total of 28 Mail and Express trains were cancelled. Railway authorities stated that they will run a special train from Howrah at 12.30 am for stranded passengers and head for Yeshwantpur, via Asansol, Aadra and Bhadrak.
The railway authorities stated that they will run a special train from Howrah at 12.30 am for stranded passengers and head for Yeshwantpur, via Asansol, Aadra and Bhadrak.
With PTI inputs