Rights

Citizenship Act: Violent Protests Rock West Bengal, Mamata Appeals for Calm

The National Highway 34, one of the main roads that connect north and south Bengal, was blocked in Murshidabad.

Kolkata: Violent agitations continued to rock parts of West Bengal for second consecutive day on Saturday as people protesting against the amended Citizenship Act set several buses on fire and torched portions of a railway station complex, officials said.

Incidents of violence were reported from Murshidabad and North 24 Paraganas districts, and rural Howrah, police said.

Angry protestors torched around 15 buses, both public and private, and blocked traffic on the arterial Kona Expressway in Howrah that connect both NH6 (Mumbai Road) and NH2 (Delhi Road) to Kolkata, the police said.

Traffic movement along the expressway came to a standstill, they said.

Also read: Citizenship Act: Curfew Relaxed For Few Hours in Cities Across NE, Amit Shah Cancels Visit

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday twice appealed to the people to maintain calm and protest “democratically”. She said violence will not be tolerated and stern action will be taken against the miscreants.

“Do not take law in your hands. Do not put up road and rail blockades and create trouble for the common people on the roads,” a CMO release quoting Banerjee said.

“Do not cause damage to government properties. Strict action will be taken against those who are found guilty of creating disturbances,” the statement said.

West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who is in conflict with Banerjee and the TMC government, tweeted “Distressed and pained at events unfolding in the State. Chief minister as per oath has to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India, and I as Governor will to the best of my ability to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law”.

The National Highway 34, one of the main roads that connect north and south Bengal, was blocked in Murshidabad.

Buses were also set on fire there, the police said.

Several other roads in the district were also blocked, they said.

Fire burns near a railway track at Uluberia Station during an agitation on NRC and CAB issue at Uluberia Station, in Howrah district of West Bengal, Friday, December 13, 2019. Photo: PTI

In Howarh district’s Domjur area, the National Highway 6 was blocked as protesters set tyres ablaze and ransacked several vehicles, the police said.

A huge police contingent was at the spot to control the situation, they said.

Since last night, 20 shops have been set on fire in Bagnan area of Rural Howrah, an official said.

A portion of the Sankrail railway station complex in Howrah district was also set on fire in the afternoon by hundreds of protestors, they said.

They also thrashed personnel of the Railway Police Force present at the station.

Train movements were also blocked in the Sealdah-Hasnabad section of the Eastern Railway.

Charred remains of a bus set on fire by protestors agitating against NRC and CAB, outside Beldanga station in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, Friday, December 13, 2019. Photo: PTI

The agitators staged sit-ins on the tracks at Shondaliya and Kakra Mirzapur stations of the section, a railway spokesperson said.

Train services have also come to a halt in the Howrah-Kharagpur section of the South Eastern Railway since 11 am, as protesters sat on the tracks at Sankrail, Nalpur, Mourigram and Bakranawabaz stations, said zonal spokesperson Sanjoy Ghosh.

Twenty trains, including eight express trains, have been stopped at various stations in the South Eastern zone, a railway official said.

Several trains have also been cancelled in the stretch.

The cancelled trains are 12847/12848 Howrah-Digha AC Exp, 12222 Howrah-Pune Duronto Exp, 120889 Howrah-Tirupati Humsafar Exp, 12860 Howrah-CSMT Geetanjali Exp, 22877 Howrah- Ernakulam Antodaya Exp and 22897/22898 Howrah-Digha-Howrah Kandari Exp.

The 12841 Coromondal Exp from Howrah, 12245 Howrah- Yesvantpur Duronto Exp, 18645 Howrah-Hyderabad East Coast Express have also been cancelled.

Puri-Digha Express, Puri-Santragachhi Passenger from Puri on December 15 have also been cancelled on December 15, a statement said.

Some trains were also short terminated.

Vandalised railway station property lies on the tracks after it was ransacked by protestors agitating against NRC and CAB issue at Uluberia Station in Howrah district of West Bengal, Friday, December 13, 2019. Photo: PTI

Protests over the amended Citizenship Act reached the shores of West Bengal on Friday, with agitators resorting to violence and arson at railway stations and thoroughfares across the state, seeking immediate revocation of the law.

The legislation has put the entire Northeast on the boil as people fear that it may exacerbate the problem of illegal immigration, while Muslims across the country apprehend that the move could be a precursor to the country- wide implementation of the National Register for Citizens (NRC).