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CAA raked up, “Stop it if you have guts”, Adhikari tells Mamata Banerjee

IndiaCAA raked up, "Stop it if you have guts", Adhikari tells Mamata Banerjee

Suvendu Adhikari said Citizenship Amendment Act will be implemented in Bengal and dared Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to stop it.

BJP Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari has announced that the Citizenship Amendment Act will be implemented in the state and dared Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to stop its roll-out.

During a meeting in North 24 Parganas District’s Thakurnagar, an area dominated by the Matuas whose roots are in Bangladesh, Adhikari said the CAA does not suggest that citizenship of anyone will be taken away if one is a bonafide resident with legal documents.

“We have discussed the CAA several times. It will be rolled out in the state. If you have guts, stop it from being enforced,” the Nandigram MLA said in an apparent reference to the chief minister.

The CAA promotes the grant of citizenship to migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

But, as the rules under the act have not been framed by the government yet, no one so far could be granted citizenship under it.

“Matua community members will also be given citizenship,” Adhikari said at the public meeting on Saturday.

A politically significant community, the Matuas are split into the BJP and TMC camps.

With an estimated 30-lakh Matuas in the state, the community has influence in at least five Lok Sabha seats and nearly 50 assembly seats in Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas districts.

Union Minister and BJP MP from Bongaon Shantanu Thakur also said the CAA would be “a reality in West Bengal, and the Narendra Modi government is committed to realizing the goal”.

Meanwhile, TMC leader and senior West Bengal minister Firhad Hakim said the BJP is using the CAA card before the 2023 panchayat polls and the 2024 Lok Sabha elections with “an eye on vote-bank politics”.

“But, we will never allow that to happen,” Hakim said.

What is the Citizenship Amendment Act?

The Citizenship Amendment Act (Bill) protests, also known as the CAA Protest, CAB Protest or CAA and NRC protests started after the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was legislated by the Government of India on 12 December 2019. The move sparked widespread national and overseas ongoing protests against the act and its associated bids for the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The protests first began in Assam and spread swiftly in other states such as Delhi, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tripura on 4 December 2019. Protests broke out rapidly across the country, although the protesters’ concerns vary.

The amendment has been widely rebuked as discriminating on the basis of religion, especially for excluding Muslims.  Protestors against the amendment demand that it be scrapped and that the nationwide NRC not be implemented.

There was also a fear among most Indian including Hindus that if they lost their birth certificates or did not hold ancestral property papers, they could be declared as non-citizens of India.  Another fear was the concentration camps being built in different parts of India, worrying those without papers would be thrown there.

The bill has raised concerns among the Indian Muslim community.  They are also concerned that all citizens will be affected by the bureaucratic exercise of the NRC where they will have to prove their citizenship for inclusion in the registry. The protesters have raised their voices against totalitarianism and the police crackdown in universities to suppress protests.

Protesters in Assam and other northeastern states do not want Indian citizenship to be granted to any refugee or immigrant, regardless of their religion, as they fear it would alter the region’s demographic balance, resulting in a loss of their political rights, culture, and land.  They also worried about Hindus from the neighboring countries being granted citizenship in Assam which would affect their economic status.

Later on, protests erupted in Northeast India and subsequently spread to the major cities of India. On 15 December, major protests took place near Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University. As the protests broke out, mobs burnt and destroyed public as well as private properties and several railway stations were vandalized.

Police forcibly entered the campus of Jamia, and used batons and tear gas on the students, and more than 200 students were injured while around 100 were detained overnight in the police station. The police action was widely condemned and resulted in students across the country protesting in solidarity.

The protests in India resulted in thousands of arrests and 27 deaths as of 27 December 2019.  Two 17-year-old minors were among those reported to have been killed due to police firing during live ammunition on protesters in Assam.  On 19 December, the police issued a complete ban on protests in several parts of India. As a result of defying the ban, thousands of protesters were detained.

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