Mamata has lost all moral right to remain in power
West Bengal has been set on fire by those opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). But the CAA is just an excuse — the real protest is against the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which Union home minister, Amit Shah, has promised to roll out across India. Who are these protestors who fear the NRC? No Indian has anything to fear as the CAA does not take away anyone’s citizenship rights. It only gives citizenship to minority communities from three neighbouring countries with which India shares a land boundary. The NRC, when it is implemented, will focus on identifying and deporting illegal immigrants from India.
So who are these people who are burning down central government properties and terrorising ordinary citizens in West Bengal? A vast majority of those who are burning trains and railway stations are very likely to be not Indian citizens. This also shows that India needs an NRC to ensure such individuals do not get the benefit of living and staying in the country.
This is what has happened in Bengal in the last three days. At least five trains have been torched; three railway stations have been ransacked and destroyed; national highways have been blocked in Howrah, Domjur and many other places; security forces have been injured in stone-pelting; and a temple was ransacked in Murshidabad.
Hindu Bengalis in Murshidabad have been allegedly attacked by illegal immigrants and toll plazas in the state have been destroyed. The stories posted by victims on social media, about being trapped in trains or buses with their female relatives and in fear for their safety and dignity, are heart-rending.
The social media has done a commendable job of bringing out the real scale of the politically motivated violence in West Bengal. The charred remains of a train at the Beldanga station in Murshidabad, the photographs of the Bengal police being pelted with stones on the Kona Highway and road blockades in Amdanga in North 24 Paraganas, Kalyani Express Highway in the Nadia district, and Jangipur-Lalgola road at Kantakhali are terrifying.
But the state government has done nothing to curb what can only be called terrorism in the state. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been conspicuous by her absence during this turbulent time. Far from lathi-charges or using tear gas to dispel the crowd, the police seemed to have been at the receiving end. Visuals of violent mobs throwing stones at the police who had to take cover demonstrate the failure of law and order in West Bengal.
Banerjee used violence to curb the agitations in the hills of West Bengal a few years ago. But the same chief minister has done nothing to prevent the lynching and killing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers across her state. This government has used violence as an instrument of state power during the local body elections. And now, when their potential voters are destroying this great state, the Mamata government has chosen to look the other way.
With this level of violence, the state police should have resorted to judicially established norms of preventing mob fury. But not only have the police been prevented from acting on the streets, it appears that the police have, in fact, been asked not to even register complaints or first information reports.
There have hardly been any mass arrests despite the nature of the violence. Contrast that with how the Bengal government acts against its political opponents: BJP leaders are arrested on the most flimsy pretexts, at the drop of a hat and violent mobs often attack their cars. But there has been no action taken against those who either conduct such actions or sympathise with this.
The Mamata government has lost all moral right to remain in power in the state. Her inaction is a clear case of the state endorsing violence in order to meet her narrow political objectives. A state government is supposed to maintain law and order within its borders. But in this blatant subversion of democracy, the state government is promoting the breakdown of law and order. These sins of omission and commission will be exposed sooner rather than later in front of the people of Bengal.
West Bengal, which has long been the fountainhead of India’s intellectual prowess across political, social and policy-making spheres, cannot be left to the mercies of illegal immigrants. This is precisely the threat to India’s future which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government are seeking to guard against. The Mamata Banerjee government stands discredited. West Bengal deserves better and will soon make that choice.