West Bengal will not allow implementation of the amended Citizenship Act "under any circumstances", Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reiterated today as she announced a series of rallies across the state to protest the contentious law. The amended Act has seen violent protests in the Northeast, particularly Assam, where two protesters were killed in police firing on Thursday evening.
"We will never allow NRC exercise and Citizenship Act in Bengal. We will not implement the amended Act, even though it has been passed in Parliament," Ms Banerjee said, accusing the centre of forcing non-BJP states to implement the law.
"The Citizenship Act will divide India. As long as we are in power, not a single person in the state will have to leave the country," the chief minister added.
District organisations of Trinamool will organise protests on the issue of #CitizenshipAmendmentBill on December 2019 across the State- All India Trinamool Congress (@AITCofficial) December 13, 2019
Another rally will be held from Jadavpur till Gandhi statue on Mayo Road on December 17
Referring to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Assam, which has now been postponed, Ms Banerjee said the development was a "blot" on the country's reputation. Mr Abe was scheduled to visit India next week to attend a three-day summit with PM Modi in Guwahati, which has been engulfed in violent protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The Act, which intends to make it easier for non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to obtain Indian citizenship, has been accused by rights groups and opposition parties of being discriminatory and violating the constitutional right to equality.
Mamata Banerjee has been one of the staunchest critics of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and had voiced her opposition to the contentious Bill even before it was passed by the parliament on Wednesday. "Don't be scared of this bill. We are with you, and as long as we are here, nobody can impose anything on you," she told a gathering in Kharagpur even as Union Home Minister Amit Shah was introducing the bill in the Lok Sabha. The Bengal Chief Minister is also a vocal critic of the National Register of Citizens, which she claims is part of a well-planned exercise to target minorities in the country. Ms Banerjee has also found support from her counterparts in Kerala and Punjab who have termed it "unconstitutional".
Massive protests began in the Northeast even before the Citizenship bill was cleared by the parliament on Wednesday. The contentious Bill got Presidential assent on Thursday night.
Thousands of protesters have descended on the streets of Northeastern cities defying curfew even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed that his government was committed to safeguarding their rights.
Several towns and cities were placed under indefinite curfew, including Guwahati, the epicentre of protests, besides Dibrugarh, Tezpur and Dhekiajuli.
With inputs from PTI