Slamming the BJP government at the Centre for its push for reintroducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the winter session of the Parliament that began Monday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the proposed legislation is a “trap” like the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to exclude Bengalis and Hindus from the country.
The Bill — which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India even if they do not possess any document — is expected to be reintroduced in the winter session as the previous one has lapsed after the last Lok Sabha term ended on June 3. It was not tabled in the Rajya Sabha after being passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8.
“The Centre is planning to bring in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, but let me tell you it is just another trap like the NRC… to exclude the Bengalis and Hindus from the list of legal citizens and make them refugees in their own countries,” the CM said Monday.
She was in North Bengal’s Cooch Behar, adjacent to Assam where the NRC is being implemented. It also spread panic in West Bengal, with reports of alleged related deaths.
Banerjee said the Bill was another bluff like the NRC even as the BJP has been saying that it would end all ambiguity regarding the NRC.
“After our government came to power, we took steps to grant citizenship to refugees of enclaves in Cooch Behar district. But we had never imposed any condition that they have like to be in this country for seven years,” she said.
The current norm for granting Indian citizenship to the minorities from the neighbouring country is 12 year’ stay in India.
Banerjee added, “Many political parties will try to misguide you. But, don’t get afraid. You all are Indian citizens. Nobody have the power to thrown you out.”
The CM also announced that the state government built 120 flats for the residents of chitmahal (enclaves along India-Bangladesh border). “Today (Monday), I am distributing keys of 20 flats to the beneficiaries. Tomorrow (Tuesday) rest will be distributed.”
A senior leader of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) said North Bengal is crucial for the party, which lost almost all Assembly seats during the Lok Sabha election this year. “But, after the NRC issue, situation in some of the constituencies became favourable. That’s why, she (CM) gave importance to the Citizenship Bill in today’s (Monday) speech,” said the leader.