With hundreds matching her steps, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday led a colourful rally through the heart of the north Bengal hill town here railing against the new citizenship law CAA and a proposed nationwide NRC.
Hundreds of Tricolours and flags of other hues fluttered, as Gorkhas and other people living in the hills joined the five-kilometre long march from Bhanubhakta Bhavan to Chawkbazar in their traditional colourful attires, with many of the participants playing local musical instruments.
The protesters shouted the slogan “No NRC, No CAA, No NPR”, and carried posters and banners decrying the “unconstitutional CAA” while winding through the narrow hilly lanes.
A large number of people stood on both sides of the rally route watching the participants, who seemed in high spirits singing songs and clapping.
The Binay Tamang faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha took part in the rally, with their supporters joining in strength, alongside West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress activists.
Some other parties having presence in the North Bengal hills lent moral support to the rally.
The CAA, passed in Parliament last month, seeks to provide Indian nationality to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before December 31, 2014.
As per the Act, such communities will not be treated as illegal immigrants now and will be given Indian citizenship.
The Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has been going all out against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). Banerjee has been regularly leading rallies and addressing pubic meetings on these issues.
The political programme is also very significant for the Trinamool Congress, which had fared miserably during the general elections in entire North Bengal, including Darjeeling, failing to win even one of the eight seats in the region. The BJP won seven seats, while one went to the Congress.