Amid fears that National Register of Citizens (NRC) could be implemented in West Bengal, hundreds of people today queued up at government and municipal offices in Kolkata and across the state for necessary documents, while two people allegedly committed suicide for failing to procure the requisite certificates to prove their citizenship, officials said.
With the two suicides, the number of those dead allegedly over NRC fears NRC rose to eight in the state, they said.
According to the police the two -- a 25-year-old man and a 50-year-old -- committed suicide at Dhupguri and Jalpaiguri areas of north Bengal.
"Family members and neighbours of both the men have claimed that they were depressed over not being able to gather proper documents needed to prove their citizenship. We have started an investigation into both the cases," a senior West Bengal police official said.
According to government sources, two others had committed suicide in the districts over NRC fears and four had died after falling ill while standing in queues with thousands of villagers at different government offices to get their documents.
The omission of a large number of Hindu Bengalis from the final NRC list in BJP-ruled Assam has evidently created fear among the people in West Bengal, which has seen influx of millions of people from Bangladesh.
Large queues were seen outside Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) headquarters and other division offices in the city and BDO offices in other parts of Bengal as people waited for their turn in search of land and other necessary documents.
"I have come to the KMC office to collect my birth certificate as I had lost it long back. I have heard that we need to have our birth certificates to prove that we are citizens of this country in case NRC is implemented in Bengal," said 75-year-old Ajit Ray, who was seen standing outside the civic body's headquarters in the city.
55-year-old Bimal Mondal was seen standing outside the land records department of KMC in search of documents of land procurement in the city by his parents five decades ago.
In rural Bengal, similar scenes were witnessed outside various government and panchayat offices.
More than 19 lakh people in Assam have been excluded from the recently published final NRC on August 31, out of which around 12 lakh are Hindus.
The TMC government asserted that it will not allow implementation of the contentious NRC in the state. "We are requesting the people not to panic at all. There will be no NRC in Bengal. The TMC government will never allow it. As long as TMC government is in power not a single person will be touched," Kolkata Mayor and senior minister Firhad Hakim said.
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Monday accused BJP of creating panic over NRC and had iterated she will not allow NRC exercise in the state. The BJP leaders in Bengal have blamed Ms Banerjee and her party, the TMC for creating a panic over NRC in Bengal to instill fear in the Hindus.
"Only TMC will be responsible for the deaths over NRC in the state. We have clearly said all the Hindus who have come from other countries will be given citizenship under Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) and then NRC will be implemented to weed out the infiltrators," state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.
(If you need support or know someone who does, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist.)
AASRA: 91-22-27546669 (24 hours)
Sneha Foundation: 91-44-24640050 (24 hours)
Vandrevala Foundation for Mental Health: 1860-2662-345 and 1800-2333-330 (24 hours)
iCall: 022-25521111 (Available from Monday to Saturday: 8:00am to 10:00pm)
Connecting NGO: 18002094353 (Available from 12 pm - 8 pm)
Follow NDTV for latest election news and live coverage of assembly elections 2019 in Maharashtra and Haryana.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.