Kolkata: In a blistering attack on the BJP’s plans for a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday questioned the nationality of her Tripura counterpart Biplab Deb.
“Both the NRC and the CAB are two sides of the same coin. They are saying we will give citizenship to Hindus and not to Muslims (according to provisions of the CAB). Why this discrimination?" she asked.
Banerjee reiterated that her government will never allow the NRC to take place in West Bengal. "If you give citizenship to all the communities, we will accept it. But if you discriminate on the basis of religion, we will oppose it,” she said.
Banerjee claimed if the NRC were to be implemented in Tripura, the chief minister's name would also be excluded from the document. "Ask him (Deb), when did he come here?" she said.
The Trinamool Congress chief said both the NRC and the CAB are "a humiliation for us and it’s a battle of our independence".
"Unfortunately, we could not participate in India’s independence movement, but the time has come when we should be prepared for the second independence movement and Bengal will lead it," she added.
Non-Muslim refugees, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan after facing religious persecution, will not be treated as illegal immigrants and will be given Indian citizenship when the proposed amendments to the six-decade-old Citizenship Act come into effect.
According to the CAB, which was distributed among MPs on Friday, the new law will not be applicable in the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime areas and those tribal regions governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The contentious Bill, which generated widespread protests in the Northeastern states, is expected to be tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday for consideration and passage.
The ILP regime is applicable in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. The areas where the new law will not apply also include include Assam, Meghalaya or Tripura.
Banerjee wondered questioned why a few states in the northeast have been exempted from the purview of the CAB. “My request to my brothers and sisters in the northeastern states: don’t believe in them (BJP). This exemption is a lollipop. This is a trap. CAB and NRC is nothing but to divert people’s attention from economic emergency in the country,” she said.
“Their (BJP) target is to chase all from India and they will give NRC and CAB approval to those who are Hindu extremists and their supporters. Nearly 30 people died in Bengal due to NRC fear. Who will take the responsibility of their death?” she asked.