Rail, bus services hit as violent stir against citizenship act continues in Bengal
While chief minister Mamata Banerjee warned of strict action, governor Jagdeep urged Banerjee to demonstrate her allegiance to the Constitution.Updated: Dec 15, 2019 00:28 IST
Violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continued to rock West Bengal for the second consecutive day on Saturday, as angry mobs torched at least four trains, more than two dozen vehicles and at least six-station complexes in various districts of the state.
While chief minister Mamata Banerjee warned of strict action, governor Jagdeep urged Banerjee to demonstrate her allegiance to the Constitution.
At Krishnapur station in Murshidabad, an irate mob torched at least four trains and ransacked the railway complex. 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. A toll plaza in Murshidabad was also set ablaze. No injuries were reported from the region.
A mob allegedly heckled railway officials and personnel of the Railway Protection Force in Murshidabad district.
Protestors also uprooted railway tracks in several areas, blocked roads and highways with burning tyres and clashed with the police. Police vans and fire tenders were also allegedly set ablaze. Train services between Howrah and Kharagpur were completely cut off.
Violence was also reported from Malda and North 24 Parganas district where an irate mob blocked the roads to stage a demonstration. In South 24 Parganas, the protests resulted in political clashes. The house of the ruling Trinamool Congress’ leader was ransacked and set ablaze.
A statement from the CM’s office said, “Do not take up law in your hand. 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.”
“Torching stations and trains will only cause inconvenience to people and serve no other purpose. I would urge people not to create unnecessary tension. Mamata Banerjee should be more active with Murshidabad district,” said Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, senior Congress leader from Murshidabad.
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.”
BJP state President Dilip Ghosh said, “The CM had encouraged this politics of destroying public property when she was in the opposition. Now her own policy of appeasement, her past conduct has backfired on her as the situation in Bengal is turning dangerous. She has lost control over the 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.
“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,” he said.
On Kona Expressway near Kolkata, a mob set ablaze at least 15 vehicles, including a police van and blocked the arterial expressway in Howrah that connect both NH6 (Mumbai Road) and NH2 (Delhi Road) to Kolkata. Police resorted to lathi-charge as the mob clashed with the cops.
Several long-distance trains, including 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 assured that CAA and NRC won’t be implemented in West Bengal. Those who are resorting to violence are strengthening BJP,” said Firhad Hakim, the state urban development minister.
In Mumbai, people from Assam gathered at the Azad Maidan on Saturday to protest against the CAA. “Assam has a distinct culture. If there is a threat to it, then we will protest against it. Secondly, this act is discriminatory and it will present a threat to the region’s culture. It is clear that the region’s demographics will change,” actor Dipannita Sharma, who was also sitting on protest, said.