Violent protests against the amended Citizenship Act spread to more areas in West Bengal even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to the people of the state to maintain peace and use democratic means of agitations.
On Saturday morning, people in the minority-dominated districts of rural Howrah, Murshidabad, Birbhum, parts of Burdwan and North Bengal hit the streets, raising slogans against the Modi government. The raging protesters also reportedly attacked local BJP workers and leaders.
As incidents of fresh violence were reported on Kona Expressway and NH6 in Howrah, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said he was “distressed and pained at events” unfolding in the state.
.@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’
— Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) December 14, 2019
Beldanga station complex has been reportedly ransacked and set ablaze by the protestors.
Reacting to the widespread protests Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed the people to use democratic means of protest. “Do not take law into your own hands… The administration will not tolerate inconveniences to the general public and will take strict action according to law,” Banerjee warned.
On Friday, agitators resorted to violence and arson at railway stations across the state, seeking immediate revocation of the law.
— #REBELkumara🇮🇳 (@Cognitionkumara) December 13, 2019
In Beldanga of Murshidabad district, a mob torched the station master’s cabin and ransacked the ticket counter before setting it on fire.
The protesters, carrying posters against the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens, vandalised the Beldanga railway station of Eastern Railway, forcing the railway employees to flee to save their lives.
A large group of protesters obstructed the National highway at Beldanga, burning tyres and damaging vehicles, including an ambulance.
The Howrah-Coromondol Express and the Howrah-Digha Kandari Express were damaged in the attack.
A number of long-distance trains including Falaknama Express, East Coast Express, Mumbai Duranta Express, Bhubaneswar Janshatabdi Express and eleven suburban trains were stranded in and around various stations, even as the protesters moved away from the tracks.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar appealed for peace and asked people to believe in the rule of law and the laws passed by parliament.
Meanwhile, the BJP has blamed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, accusing her of spreading lawlessness through her statements opposing the CAA.
Besides West Bengal, the northeastern region, especially the states of Assam, Tripura and now Meghalaya, have witnessed widespread violent protests against the CAA.
President Ram Nath Kovind, in a late Thursday night order, gave his assent to The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, letting it become an Act allowing Indian citizenship to six non-Muslim minority migrants facing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
According to the Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.