There were numerous violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), which has now been turned into an Act, across West Bengal on Friday and Saturday. At all protest demonstrations, rallies and public meetings, angry protesters burnt copies of the Bill.
Angry protestors torched around 15 buses, both public and private. Since last night, 20 shops have been set on fire in Bagnan area of Rural Howrah, an official said. A portion of the Sankrail railway station complex in Howrah district was also set on fire in the afternoon by hundreds of protesters, they said. They also thrashed personnel of the Railway Police Force present at the station, reported PTI.
A public meeting was organised in Kolkata by Paschim Banga Samajik Nyay Mancha (West Bengal Social Justice Platform) against the passage of the Bill on Friday, December 13. Talking to NewsClick, Alakesh Das, former CPI(M) MP and present leader of the platform said, “The passage of the CAB in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is an attempt by the political party in power to create communal divide among people. The poor Muslims will suffer the most because of this Act. The people who were already citizens of India for generations have suddenly been told that they will have to prove their citizenship.”
He added, “How will people prove that they came to this country on a certain date? Central government’s agencies will apparently examine and verify our documents, the same agencies that left out the names of 19 lakh people from the final NRC list in Assam, despite having their papers and documents.” Das said that the central government is responsible for the massive protests and violence in the Northeast, and condemned the attacks on the protesters by the government’s forces.
Road and rail blockades continued in different parts of West Bengal on Saturday, as people protested against the amended Citizenship Act, reported PTI. Incidents of violence were reported from Murshidabad and North 24 Paraganas districts, and rural Howrah. The National Highway 34, one of the arterial roads that connect North and South Bengal, was blocked in Murshidabad by angry protesters. Several other roads in the district were also blocked. In Howrah district’s Domjur area, the National Highway 6 was also blocked.
Huge police contingent was rushed to the spot to control the situation. Train movements were also blocked in the Sealdah-Hasnabad section of the Eastern Railway. The agitators started staging sit-ins on the tracks at Shondaliya and Kakra Mirzapur stations of the section since around 6:30 in the morning, a railway spokesperson told PTI. The blockade at Kakra Mirzapur was withdrawn around 9.30 am, however, the one at Shondaliya continued.
‘Say no to NRC’ was also one of the slogans of the workers’ long march called by Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) that covered a distance of 283 km over 12 days and culminated in Kolkata on December 11. Even before the passage of the CAB, during the last few months, numerous protests and rallies have been organised across the state by the Left Front.
Samajik Nyay Mancha has said that a statewide conference will be organised on January 13 in Kolkata against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, National Registry of Citizens, and National Population Register.