Mamata Banerjee meets Amit Shah in Odisha, doesn’t lash out at Centre
Refraining from making any comment against the Narendra Modi government over the Delhi riots that have so far claimed 42 lives, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Friday said it is necessary to restore peace, normalcy and bring the situation under control, instead of hankering for political supremacy.
Banerjee, who was in Bhubaneswar, came face to face with Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the 24th meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council, where the matter of Delhi riots came up. However, the Bengal CM said nothing that would embarrass Shah.
“At the beginning of the meeting, I said I am distressed over whatever happened in Delhi. Peace and normalcy needs to return. It is necessary to help the victims and their families. A police constable and an IB official have also been killed. The families of other people who have been killed also need to be helped. If one part of the country faces a crisis, it keeps on continuing in other parts too,” Banerjee said soon after having lunch with Shah, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Banerjee did not touch much of the lunch except the ‘raita’ saying she does not have lunch.
The Bengal CM who on Wednesday had written a poem condemning the violence chose not to dwell much on the Delhi riots except the sentence on the necessity of peace. In her poem, the TMC chief wrote: “Search for an address getting lost/ A storm raging the country at gunpoint/ A peaceful country turned violent / Is it the end of democracy? Who will give the answer?/ Will there be a solution/ You and me are deaf and dumb/ The sacred land turns into hell.”
Forty two people have been killed and over 200 injured in communal violence that broke out in northeast Delhi three days ago.
The Trinamool Congress chief who has been going hammer and tongs against the Modi government and more specifically Shah holding him responsible for spreading the fire of division and hatred over the Citizenship Amendment Act, however, did not bring up the topic of CAA and NRC.
“Neither CAA, NPR nor NRC were discussed in today’s meeting. It was not in today’s agenda. There was no discussion on law and order either. I only discussed about the GST dues of Bengal and more devolution of central funds. We are facing problems in paying salaries to our employees on time,” she said.
Home minister Amit Shah did not speak to the media after the EZC meeting, but an hour after it he lashed out at the opposition parties for spreading misinformation over the Citizenship Amendment Act while addressing a public meeting. “The entire opposition such as Congress, Left and Mamatadi are protesting against CAA saying minorities will lose citizenship which is a lie. CAA has nothing to do with Indian citizens. It’s the opposition which is spreading lies about CAA and spreading communal riots. I repeat CAA will not snatch citizenship status from anyone, but will give citizenship to people who are subjected to religious persecution in neighbouring countries. CAA is a law that grants citizenship,” Shah said.
Bringing up the issue of Article 370, the Union Home Minister said the Modi government integrated Kashmir with India by scrapping Article 370.
Early in the day, Congress in the state burnt the effigy of Shah holding the Centre responsible for Delhi riots.
In the communally-sensitive Bhadrak district, the district administration on Friday refused to allow any protests or mass gatherings over the CAA. An anti-CAA and NRC protest was scheduled to be organized at the Madina Maidan in Bhadrak by some student leaders from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. However, police reached the spot and urged the people there to stop staging any protest without permission from the local administration.
“We are trying to ensure peace in the region. We can’t allow any anti-CAA or pro-CAA congregation till normalcy returns to Bhadrak. We will not allow any protest here,” said eastern range inspector general of police, Diptesh Patnaik. He said people have been warned not to post or write any derogatory or communal things on social media platforms. Two people have been arrested by the Bhadrak police on charges of posting inflammatory content about Delhi riots on social media.