Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh on Tuesday kicked up yet another controversy by questioning why nobody was dying at the Shaheen Bagh protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has claimed that 100 people lost their lives waiting in line to withdraw money from banks during the demonetisation initiative over three years ago.
"What surprises me is that people were dying after standing in line for two to three hours. But now women and children are sitting in temperatures as low as 4-5 degrees Celsius but nobody is dying! What nectar did they have? I am astonished! What is their incentive (for protesting)?" he said at an event organised by the Kolkata Press Club.
Mr Ghosh hinted at a possible motive behind the protests, saying, "I find it very interesting. People are very excited about Shaheen Bagh because women and children are protesting there day and night. Some say they are getting 500 rupees every day. This may or may not be the case. But the truth about the Popular Front of India has come out. The truth about Shaheen Bagh will also emerge. We will make sure it does."
The Uttar Pradesh police has alleged that the Popular Front of India, a Delhi-based group with a strong base in Kerala and Karnataka, was behind the violence in the state last month.
The demonstration at Shaheen Bagh, which has been going on for over a month now, has become the face of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register. It has also inspired similar protests in other parts of the country, including Kolkata, Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj, over the last few weeks.
The country has witnessed protests since December last year, when the government enacted the controversial law that makes it easier for non-Muslims migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to become Indian citizens. However, critics say that the law is against the secular principles of the country and is likely to pose a threat to the country's Muslim community when enacted alongside the National Register of Citizens.
This is not the first time Dilip Ghosh has targeted those protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act. Over a week ago, he said that "parasites" who claim they won't furnish documents in keeping with the law will soon have to shy away from showing their very faces in public. On January 12, he praised BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka for shooting down those who destroyed public property like "dogs" while denouncing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for not doing the same in Bengal.