Violent protests in West Bengal
West Bengal saw large-scale violence on Saturday against the amended Citizenship Act prompting Mamata Banerjee to appeal for calm and also warn those indulging in violence of strict action.
A portion of Sankrail railway station complex in Howrah district was set on fire by a mob which also thrashed security personnel guarding it. Roads in and around the Sankrail railway station was blocked by the protesters who also set a few shops on fire, police sources said. Train services were affected in Howrah and Sealdah sections.
A number of private and public buses were torched by angry protesters on the arterial Kona Expressway that connects NH2 (Delhi Road) to NH6 (Mumbai Road) near the city and in the districts and a toll plaza was set ablaze in Murshidabad district.
Protesters opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act throw stones at police in Howrah district of West Bengal. (AP photo)
Mamata’s office issued a statement quoting her: “Do not take up law in your hand. Do not put up road blockades and rail blockades and create trouble for the common people on the roads. Do not cause damage to government properties. Strict action would be taken against those who are found guilty in creating disturbances.”
Mamata also iterated that the amended Citizenship Act and the proposed country-wide NRC will not take effect in the state.
The BJP, meanwhile, accused Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators for the ongoing mayhem and arson in several parts of the state. BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said the party will seek imposition of President’s Rule in the state if the situation continues.
Sinha blamed chief minister Mamata Banerjee for her “appeasement policies”, which, he claimed, has led to the current situation in West Bengal.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said, “The CM had encouraged this politics of destroying public property when she was in the opposition.”
Oil tanker set on fire in Assam, death toll rises to 3
In Assam, indefinite curfew was relaxed for several hours in Dibrugarh and Guwahati, which has emerged as the epicentre of protests against the contentious piece of legislation.
The toll in the large scale protests against the Act rose to three on Saturday as suspected miscreants set ablaze an oil tanker at Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district and killed its driver during curfew on Friday late night.
Two others had been killed during the violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Guwahati earlier this week.
Schools and offices in Guwahati, however, remained shut, official sources said.
Assamese singer Zubeen Garg along with AASU members take part in a mass hunger strike during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, in Guwahati on Friday. (ANI photo)
Suspension of internet services across Assam was extended for 48 hours till December 16 to prevent misuse of social media in disturbing peace and to maintain law and order in the state, additional chief secretary (home and political department) Sanjay Krishna said.
All Assam Students Union (AASU), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and 30 other organisations of indigenous people, spearheading the agitation against the Act, held protests in all districts of the Brahmaputra Valley along with senior citizens, students, artists, singers, intellectuals and teachers.
A man plays cymbals as protesters gather during an agiatation against the passing of Citizenship Amendment Bill, in Dibrugarh. (PTI photo)
Train services between Guwahati and the rest of the country was disrupted in a rail blockade called by the AJYCP, which is demanding the implementation of Inner Line Permit in the state.
A NF Railway spokesman said that all trains to upper Assam districts have been terminated in Guwahati while all long distance trains leaving it will resume their onward journey after the blockade is lifted by 5pm.
Meanwhile, Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said that the situation is coming to normalcy in the state and curfew in Guwahati has been relaxed. “The situation is much better now. In fact, it is coming to normalcy in all the districts. We had imposed curfew in Guwahati and Dibrugarh. It has been relaxed in Guwahati city today. In the last few days, we have arrested more than 100 people. We have released some persons who had just participated in the protest and not engaged in lawlessness,” Mahanta told news agency ANI.
Normal life hit in parts of Nagaland due to 6-hour shutdown
The Meghalaya government has decided to convene a special one-day session of the assembly to bring in a resolution to implement the Inner Line Permit regime in the state.
Curfew was also relaxed in Shillong during the day as the law and order situation improved.
A deserted road during bandh called by Naga Students Federation in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, in Dimapur. (PTI photo)
In Nagaland, schools and colleges were closed, markets were shut and vehicles plied in fewer numbers during the six-hour shutdown since 6 am by Naga Students’ Federation against the amended Citizenship Act, officials said.
NET exam in Assam, Meghalaya postponed
The UGC National Eligibility Test (NET) for candidates scheduled to appear in Assam and Meghalaya was postponed on Saturday due to unrest in the region. The National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts the test, announced that the exam in other states will be held on Sunday as per the schedule.
Massive protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar over Citizenship Act
Protests against the new citizenship law intensified in the national capital as thousands of people gathered at Jantar Mantar and Assam Bhawan to call an end to “religious profiling”.
People from all walks of life came out in solidarity with those opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and dubbed it as “anti-people”.
‘Not In My Name’ campaign, which was earlier in headlines against the alleged attacks on minorities, also held a protest at Jantar Mantar against the amended citizenship act.
Protesters during a demonstration at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Saturday. (TOI photo | Ishant)
Rahul Roy, one of the organisers of the ‘Not In My Name’ campaign, said, “It can be an act, bill or whatever, but clearly it is against the Constitution and is unlawful. The intension of the act is to create communal tension in the country.”
Similar agitations were also held near Assam Bhawan, where people holding candles raised slogans in protest against the controversial legislation.
Members of Assamese community hold protest in Mumbai
A group of city residents who hail from Assam staged a demonstration against the amended Citizenship Act. The protest was held at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai.
The participants carried placards, banners and handbills with messages `Say No to CAB’, ‘We oppose CAA’ and ‘Withdraw CAA, Save Assam’.
“We are fighting over the issue of foreigners (settling down in Assam) for the last many years and now with this act, the situation will worsen. If we gave shelter to more foreigners, Assamese citizens will suffer,” said one protester.
Assamese people display placards during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, at Azad Maidan in Mumbai, on Saturday . (ANI photo)
RJD calls for Bihar bandh on December 21
Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal has given call for a Bihar bandh on December 21 in protest against the amended Citizenship Act, alleging that it has blown the Constitution to smithereens. “We appeal to all secular parties, non-political outfits and common citizens who have faith in the Constitution and the principle of justice to wholeheartedly support the bandh and help us make it a success,” Tejashwi Yadav tweeted.
60 groups to launch non-cooperation movement against CAA, NRC
Expressing their resentment over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), over 60 organisations have come together to launch a non-cooperation movement against any registration based on discriminatory and divisive citizenship. To register their protest against the new citizenship law, the organisations have given a call to observe December 19 as the day to reject the Citizenship Amendment Act passed by the Parliament earlier this week. The organisations have planned more than 100 events under a common banner, “Ham Bharat Ke Log: National Action Against Citizenship Amendment”.
Odisha: Several trains cancelled following agitation against CAA
As many as 12 trains have been fully and partially cancelled on Saturday due to the agitation following the passage of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) by the Parliament. According to a press release, at least seven express trains from Howrah in West Bengal and three trains from Puri in Odisha were cancelled while two other Odisha-bound trains have been partially cancelled.
Who said what
* Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Saturday alleged that the BJP was “best at dividing people of the country”.
* Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the Citizenship Amendment Act would “shred the soul” of India. There is an atmosphere of “andher nagri chaupat raja (confused leader, chaotic State)” in the country and the entire nation is asking where is “sabka saath sabka vikaas”
* Union home minister Amit Shah hit out at the Congress, accusing it of stoking violence over the amended Citizenship Act. Shah said the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill has caused a “stomach ache” to the opposition party. The BJP president assured the people of the Northeast that their culture, language, social identity and political rights will be not be affected by the Act. “I assure the people of Assam and other northeastern states that their culture, social identity, language and political rights will not be touched and the Narendra Modi government will protect them,” he said.
What is Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019
According to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 due to religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants and given Indian citizenship.
The Act says the refugees of the six communities will be given Indian citizenship after residing in India for five years, instead of 11 years earlier.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday and by the Lok Sabha on Monday after heated debates in both the Houses.
(With inputs from agencies)