Protests against new citizenship law rock Bengal for second consecutive day
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee urged people not to take the law into their own hands and warned of strict action. Jagdeep Dhankhar, Governor of West Bengal, in a tweet, urged Banerjee to demonstrate her faith and allegiance to the Constitution in the present situation.Updated: Dec 15, 2019 05:48 IST
Violent protests continued to rock West Bengal for the second consecutive day on Saturday as a mob torched at least four trains, more than two dozen vehicles and six-station complexes in various districts, to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee urged people not to take the law into their own hands and warned of strict action. Jagdeep Dhankhar, Governor of West Bengal, in a tweet, urged Banerjee to demonstrate her faith and allegiance to the Constitution in the present situation.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party’s national secretary Rahul Sinha warned that imposing President’s Rule would be the only option left if such violence continues in the state.
At Krishnapur station in Murshidabad, an irate mob torched at least four trains. The railway complex was ransacked and set ablaze. At least six-station complexes in Howrah and Murshidabad were ransacked and set on fire. Protesters also hurled stones at the Maldah–Katihar passenger train. There were no reports of any injuries though. A toll plaza in Murshidabad was also set ablaze.
“Do not take the law into your hands. Do not block roads and railway tracks. Inconvenience caused to common people won’t be tolerated. Do not damage government properties. Strict action would be taken against those who are found guilty,” said a statement issued from chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s office.
Protestors also uprooted railway tracks in several places, blocked roads and highways with burning tyres and clashed with the police. Police vans and fire tenders were also set ablaze. Train services between Howrah and Kharagpur were completely cut off.
Railway officials and personnel of the Railway Protection Force were heckled by the mob in Murshidabad district. Fresh violence was also reported from Malda and North 24 Parganas district where an irate mob blocked the roads to stage a demonstration. Political clashes also broke out in South 24 Parganas and Malda where a Trinamool Congress’ leader’s house was ransacked and set ablaze.
BJP’s Sinha said: “The state would have to take full responsibility of what’s happening. We don’t want President’s Rule. But if such incidents continue then there would be no option left but to impose President’s Rule to restore normalcy, save public property and bring back democracy.”
“Torching stations and trains will only cause inconvenience to people and serve no other purpose. I urge people not to create unnecessary tension. Mamata Banerjee should be more active with the Murshidabad district,” said Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said senior Congress leader from Murshidabad.
On Kona Expressway near Kolkata, a mob set ablaze 15 vehicles, including a police van and blocked the arterial expressway in Howrah that connects both NH6 (Mumbai Road) and NH2 (Delhi Road) to Kolkata. Police resorted to lathi-charge as the mob clashed with the security personnel. Reports of irate mobs setting ablaze vehicles including fire tenders also poured in from across the state.
West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar 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 preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law”.
Several long-distance trains, including the Santragachi-Pune Humsafar Express, Jagannath Express had to be cancelled while many others had to be diverted and shortly terminated. Several EMU locals were stranded enroute leading to harassment of passengers.
Intellectuals including authors and theatre personalities also urged people not to resort to violence and take law into their own hands.
“The chief minister has also assured that CAA and NRC won’t be implemented in West Bengal. Those who are resorting to violence are also strengthening the BJP,” said Firhad Hakim, urban development minister in West Bengal.