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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Bengal polls: In Matua bastion, some voters in dilemma about CAA

Though most Matuas backed the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the hope of an expedited citizenship process, some point out that several Hindus were kept out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam in 2019.

Written by Santanu Chowdhury | Thakurnagar |
Updated: April 22, 2021 7:24:56 am
The town of Thakurnagar, about 60 km from Kolkata, is the site of the community’s headquarters and will go to the polls in the sixth phase of the Assembly elections on Thursday.

The BJP’s promise to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and grant citizenship to undocumented Matuas has been the focus of the conversation surrounding the politically influential community in this election season, but some Matuas say they are in a dilemma about opting for citizenship under the law if the Opposition party comes to power.

Sujit Biswas (41) tells The Indian Express he is not sure if he will opt for citizenship if the BJP wins and implements the CAA as promised in its election manifesto. “I don’t know whether I will take the risk and declare myself as an illegal citizen who came to India from Bangladesh. After elections, Hindu refugees in Assam were given D-voter [doubtful voter] notice. What is the guarantee that I will not be put in a detention camp once I say my family members are refugees from the neighbouring country?” he says.

The town of Thakurnagar, about 60 km from Kolkata, is the site of the community’s headquarters and will go to the polls in the sixth phase of the Assembly elections on Thursday. Though most Matuas backed the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the hope of an expedited citizenship process, some point out that several Hindus were kept out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam in 2019.

Says Radha Rani Biswas (34), “How do we trust the BJP unless they release Hindus from detention camps in Assam? They are saying one thing in Assam and another in Bengal.”

Her comments are in line with the TMC stance that Matuas are already Indian citizens and do not require a new citizenship certificate. Most Matuas belong to the Scheduled Caste Namasudra community that migrated to India in droves during Partition and after the Bangladesh war of 1971. A sizeable section, however, has yet to receive citizenship.

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