Naihati (WB): Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said the amended Citizenship Act will not be implemented in West Bengal as long as she is alive, and that there will be no detention centre in the state.
No one can take away the rights of the people of the country, like citizenship, the Trinamool Congress supremo said at a programme at Naihati in North 24 Parganas district. She alleged that BJP workers were asking for money from people to help them get documents for proving their citizenship, a charge trashed by the saffron party.
She lent her support to students' protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and criticised government's action on them. "Why can't students protest against a draconian law? The Centre is taking action against protesting students and is rusticating them from universities." Banerjee, who has held five anti-CAA rallies in Kolkata in past 11 days, said, "As long as I am alive, the CAA will not be implemented in Bengal. No one has to leave the country or the state. There will not be any detention centre in Bengal."
Hitting out at a proposed nationwide implementation of National Register of Citizens, she questioned why people need to prove their citizenship once again. "Citizenship means having your name in the voters' list. It means having documents like driving licence and bank accounts. Then, why will people have to submit fresh proof of their citizenship once more?"
Referring to her government's decision to put on hold the updation of National Population Register, Banerjee said, "We did not realise their (BJP's) intent initially. But, when we got to know that it is linked to singling out bona fide citizens of the country, we stopped the exercise in Bengal. We will not do anything which will be against people."
Continuing her tirade, the TMC supremo said it was ironical that people vote as citizens and then have to submit fresh proof of their citizenship. "You (The BJP-led government at the Centre) will ask them to stand in queue again! What about proving your (BJP) own citizenship? BJP workers are seeking money from people to help them get documents to prove their citizenship. I would call upon the masses not to fall into their trap," she said.
Banerjee, who had opposed Aadhaar card as well, said, "Two years ago, they (Centre) had said the card will be required for getting phone connection, for opening bank accounts and a sum of Rs 6,000 crore was spent on the exercise. Now all of a sudden they have come up with the new theory that something like the Aadhaar card will not work. Do they think people will follow their diktat? Do they think people will bow down to their frequent change of whims?"
Banerjee said and asked people to enroll their names in the voters list by January 15. Iterating that no detention camps will be allowed in West Bengal, Banerjee, who is one of the most vocal critics of the BJP, said, "Your (Centre) writ runs in Delhi. Don't think the state will fall in line." Alleging that the Centre is trying to create divisions among other backward caste communities, Banerjee said it is pitting Matuas, Namasudras, scheduled caste and scheduled tribes against each other.
She said the state had earlier recognised 94 refugee colonies on its lands, and the West Bengal government has recently decided to give official recognition to all such colonies on private and central government lands. "They want to create divisions among Namasudra, Matua, Rajbanshi and Kamtapuri communities. They want to divide Bengalis and non-Bengalis. They want to wedge a divide among Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists. We won't let that happen," she said.
Reacting to Banerjee's allegation, the BJP leadership dared her block CAA's implementation in the state. "The CAA is a central act which will be implemented across the country. Let Mamata Banerjee stop it from being implemented in West Bengal if she can. She doesn't want Hindu refugees to get citizenship. But we won't allow that to happen," BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said. He also termed completely "baseless" the chief minister's allegations that BJP workers were asking for money from people to help them get documents to prove their citizenship.