Amidst the ongoing violent agitations and vandalism by people protesting against the amended Citizenship Act across West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee today appealed to people to maintain peace and warned that strict action will be taken for indulging in violence. Urging people to protest democratically, Miss Banerjee reiterated that her party would take out a peaceful protest rally on Monday in the city. “Do not take law into your hand. Do not put up road blocks and rail blocks and create trouble for the common people on the roads,” said Miss Banerjee in a statement released from the chief minister’s office.
“Do not cause damage to government property. Strict action would be taken against those who are found guilty in creating disturbances,” the statement quoted her as saying. She further said that police stations, railway stations, airports, post offices, government offices, public transport are public property. Vandalising public as well as private property in any form will not be tolerated and will strictly be dealt according to law, she added. She also reiterated that the amended Citizenship Act and the proposed country-wide NRC will not take effect in the state.
“We want to oppose Citizenship Act and NRC in a peaceful and democratic manner. It is my request, don’t create confusion among people,” she said, adding that a few political parties are trying to disturb communal harmony by launching such violent protests. On Friday, Miss Banerjee announced that her party will hold several protest programmes across the state against the act. “@MamataOfficial announces mega rally against #CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019 on December 16 in #Kolkata. The rally will begin near the statue of Dr BR Ambedkar and end at Jorasanko. Didi will walk in the rally,” her party tweeted.
“District organisations of Trinamul will organise protests on the issue of #CitizenshipAmendmentBill on December 2019 across the State. Another rally will be held from Jadavpur till Gandhi statue on Mayo Road on 17 December,” it said in another tweet. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar took to Twitter to remind Banerjee of her constitutional duties. “@MamataOfficial. Distressed and pained at events unfolding in the State. Chief Minister as per oath has to ‘bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India..’ and I as Governor will ‘to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law’,” Dhankhar tweeted.
Violent agitations continued to rock parts of the state for the second consecutive day today as people protested against the amended Citizenship Act, setting several buses on fire as well as torching portions of railway stations. Incidents of violence were reported from Murshidabad and North 24- Parganas districts, and rural Howrah, police said. Thirteen government buses and seven private buses were torched in various areas of the state till now, said a transport official. Traffic came to a standstill on Kona Expressway and other parts of Howrah with the vast stretch of the expressway turning into a battle zone as the protesters clashed with police personnel after setting at least nine buses on fire, burning tyres on the road and pelting stones at the police.
Police had to resort to lathicharge and burst teargas shells to disperse the violent crowd. A police van was also set on fire by the agitators who blocked Kona Expressway for several hours. A huge contingent of police personnel and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) were deployed on the expressway. Several areas of North 24-Parganas, namely Hasnabad, Basirhat, Amdanga, Deganga witnessed protests as thousands of people descended on the road. NH-117 was blocked for an hour near Diamond Harbour in South 24-Parganas by a mob protesting against the Citizenship Act.
In Murshidabad, buses and trains were set on fire causing disruption of transport services on the national highway as well as at several railway stations, including Beldanga and Krishnapur under Sealdah-Lalgola section, sources said. In unprecedented violence anti-CAB agitators this afternoon set fire to several trains which were in the loco-shed at Krishnapur railway station, the penultimate station located close to Lalgola, the terminal station in the Sealdah-Lalgola section. Meanwhile, train connectivity remained paralysed on several routes including Howrah and Kharagpur for a second day today.
Beldanga and Uluberia, Sankrail, Bauria, Chengail and Harishchandrapur became targets of the mob that torched station master’s rooms, vandalised stations and even set coaches ablaze. According to the South Eastern Railway, severe damage was caused at Sankrail, Nalpur, Bauria and Chengail stations by the violent agitators. At Sankrail station, the booking office and station master’s room were set on fire, damaging equipment, station records, passenger reservation system, and unreserved ticketing system rolls.