On a day Union Home Minister Amit Shah told Parliament that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process will be carried out across India, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday reiterated that her government would not allow the NRC to be implemented in the state.
Addressing a public meeting at Sagardighi in Murshidabad district, Banerjee said nobody can take anyone’s citizenship away and make that person a refugee. Stating that the NRC in Assam was part of the Assam Accord signed during the tenure of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, she said the exercise can never be implemented across India.
Earlier in the day, Shah told rajya Sabha, “The process of NRC will be carried out across the country. No one irrespective of their religion should be worried. It is just a process to get everyone under the NRC.”
In a veiled dig at the BJP, the Trinamool Congress chief said a “few people” were trying to foment trouble in the state in the name of NRC by saying that the exercise will be carried out in Bengal.
“I would like to make it very clear that we will never allow the NRC exercise in Bengal,” she said. “We won’t allow anybody to divide people on the basis of religion,” she added.
Claiming that there is a “conspiracy” afoot to divide the state on religious lines, Banerjee said if someone thinks that it would be easy to divide Bengal on communal lines, then the person is “living in a fool’s paradise”.
She said, “A total of 19 lakh people have been left out of the Assam NRC. Those omitted include Hindus, Bengalis, Muslims, Gorkhas and Buddhists. They have been sent to detention centres. In Bengal, we (TMC) will never allow any detention centre.”
The CM also urged people not be misguided by people who wanted to divide communities and pit one against another.
“If you have one citizenship document, that’s enough. Even if you don’t need rations that are provided (at a subsidised rate) by the government, ensure that you have digital ration cards.”
The proposed implementation of the NRC in Bengal had created panic, claiming 11 lives in the state following the omission of about 19.6 lakh names from the final NRC in Assam.
On Tuesday, Mamata had lashed out at the BJP government for planning to introduce the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (CAB) in Parliament. During an administrative meeting at Gangarampur, Mamata warned that many would try to misguide people. She ordered the government official and people’s representatives to stand by people and advise them as well as assure them that nobody could displace them.
Referring to the killing of five labourers from Bengal in Kashmir last month, Banerjee criticised the Centre for failing to protect non-Kashmiris in the Valley.
“You will find people from other states working in Bengal, but you will never see that they have been beaten up or attacked. Then why are only Bengalis being attacked in Kashmir? We condemn it,” she said.
Banerjee said the West Bengal government had provided compensation and other relief to the family members of those killed in Kashmir, besides making special arrangements to bring back hundreds of Bengali labourers back from there.
“We have also provided compensation to the labourers who have been brought back,” she said.