Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today launched a scathing attack on the BJP over Assam's citizen's list, claiming 25 lakh Hindus and 13 lakh Muslims have been left out of the list, all of whom happen to speak Bengali. She also targeted the BJP over demands that the Assam formula be applied to weed out illegal migrants from other states.
"Out of 3 crore people in Assam, 40 lakh are left out.... If this method is applied to other states, Will it be a good thing?" the Chief Minister questioned, pointing out that every state has residents who are originally from other states. "In Maharashtra, a lot of Bengalis and Biharis stay. In Bengal, we have Biharis and Marwaris. If this game is played, will it be good for us?"
The Bengal Chief Minister has been vociferous about the citizens' list in Assam, from which 40 lakh people have been left out. The government, she contends, has been targeting Muslims as well as Hindus in the guise of zeroing on illegal migrants from Bangladesh.
Speaking Bengali, the Chief Minister today said, has become a "crime".
Recounting her interactions with people in Assam, she said those who protested against exclusion from the National Citizens' Register, were being sent to detention camps.
"They said, 'we haven't been able to talk, to protest'. If they talk, they are put into detention camps. Many people from Murshidabad are there... Atrocities must be stopped. Why are women and children in detention camps?" she said.
The BJP government, she said, has been labeling them infiltrators and harassing them under false cases. That it was planned, she said, was evident by the presence of 400 companies of security forces.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who has accused Ms Banerjee of having a vested interest in the issue - an expansion of her vote bank in the state - was not forgotten. Referring to the documents needed to prove citizenship - often a tough ask for uneducated, economically backward rural masses - Ms Banerjee said, "Does Amit Shah have his father's birth certificate? I know I don't..."
The Chief Minister added that had she not been born in Bengal, "they would have asked me (to prove citizenship) also".