Saffron flags dotted the streets of Kolkata as BJP national working president JP Nadda kicked off a massive rally in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act today. The 4.5-kilometre march was undertaken to counter the ongoing agitation against the controversial law since its passage in parliament earlier this month.
The march, which also saw the participation of West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh, national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and party leader Locket Chatterjee, commenced from Hind Cinema in central Kolkata this afternoon and will culminate at Shyambazar later in the day.
Footage of the march showed JP Nadda and Kailash Vijayvargiya waving BJP flags from an open-air vehicle and shouting slogans as party activists walked alongside. "We are taking out this march in a peaceful manner. The people have been misled. In West Bengal, the Chief Minister herself is troubling the people. She is causing unease among the people by telling them lies," another party leader, Roopa Ganguly, told news agency ANI.
Once they reach Shyambazar, JP Nadda is expected to deliver a speech detailing the benefits of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The amended law, which aims to expedite citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been a major flashpoint between the Trinamool Congress government and the BJP-led centre. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who maintains that she will not allow its implementation in the state, personally led several rallies to condemn the law over the last few weeks.
Meanwhile, student groups and Trinamool Congress activists continued protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act in other parts of the city. Many students at Bengal's Jadavpur University showed black flags to West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar, who had come down for a convocation ceremony.
Over 20 people have been killed in clashes over the Citizenship Amendment Act so far.
(With inputs from ANI)