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Fear Over NRC Grips Kolkata and Other Districts, 8 Deaths Reported So Far in West Bengal

The omission of a large number of Hindu Bengalis from the final NRC list in BJP-ruled Assam has evidently created fear among the people in West Bengal, which has seen influx of millions of people from Bangladesh.

PTI

Updated:September 24, 2019, 11:06 PM IST
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Fear Over NRC Grips Kolkata and Other Districts, 8 Deaths Reported So Far in West Bengal
Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18

Kolkata: Amidst fears that NRC could be implemented in West Bengal hundreds of people on Tuesday queued up at government and municipal offices here and across the state for necessary documents, while two persons allegedly committed suicide for failing to procure the requisite certificates to prove their citizenship, officials said.

With the two suicides, the number of those dead in alleged fear over NRC rose to eight in the state, they said.

According to the police the two - one 25-year-old man and another 50 years old had committed suicide at Dhupguri and Jalpaiguri areas of north Bengal. While one took his life by hanging himself the other had jumped into a well, the police said adding no suicide note was found, the police said.

"Family members and neighbours of both the men have claimed that they were depressed over not being able to gather proper documents needed to prove their citizenship. We have started an investigation into both the cases," a senior West Bengal police official said.

According to government sources two others had committed suicide in the districts over NRC fears and four had died after falling ill while standing in queues with thousands of villagers at different government offices to get their documents.

The omission of a large number of Hindu Bengalis from the final NRC list in BJP-ruled Assam has evidently created fear among the people in West Bengal, which has seen influx of millions of people from Bangladesh.

The repeated assertions by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the Lok Sabha poll campaign that NRC would be implemented in West Bengal has apparently deepened the fear.

Large queues were seen outside Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) headquarters and other division offices in the city and BDO offices in other parts of Bengal as people waited for their turn in search of land and other necessary documents.

"I have come to the KMC office to collect my birth certificate as I had lost it long back. I have heard that we need to have our birth certificates to prove that we are citizens of this country in case NRC is implemented in Bengal," said 75-year-old Ajit Ray, who was seen standing outside the civic body's headquarters in the city.

55-year-old Bimal Mondal was seen standing outside the land records department of KMC in search of documents of land procurement in the city by his parents five decades ago.

In rural Bengal similar picture was witnessed outside various government and panchayat offices.

"What will we do if we are declared foreigners though we were born and brought up in this country ? From where will I get documents of my father being born in this country?"

25-year-old Khalque Mollah of South 24 Parganas district said. A person had committed suicide at Falta in the district on Sunday allegedly in fear over the NRC. More than 19 lakh people in Assam have been excluded from the recently published final NRC on August 31, out of which around 12 lakh are Hindus.

The TMC government asserted that it will not allow implementation of the contentious NRC in the state.

"We are requesting the people not to panic at all. There will be no NRC in Bengal. The TMC government will never allow it. As long as TMC government is in power not a single person will be touched," Kolkata Mayor and senior minister Firhad Hakim told reporters.

West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee on Monday accused BJP of creating panic over NRC and had iterated she will not allow NRC exercise in the state.

The BJP leaders in Bengal have blamed Banerjee and her party, the TMC for creating a panic over NRC in Bengal to instill fear in the Hindus.

"Only TMC will be responsible for the deaths over NRC in the state. We have clearly said all the Hindus who have come from other countries will be given citizenship under Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) and then NRC will be implemented to weed out the infiltrators," state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.

The CAB, 2019 provided for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the current norm, even if they do not possess any document.

The legislation was passed by Lok Sabha during its winter session on January 8 but could not be cleared by the upper house and lapsed. Top BJP leader of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday that the Centre will reintroduce the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament in November.

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