Will give Hindu refugees citizenship: Amit Shah in Bengal
During his first visit to West Bengal since Modi 2.0, BJP chief and Union Home Minister Amit Shah pushed for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state while addressing a rally in Kolkata on Tuesday. Reportedly, Shah assured that the NRC exercise would follow after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill gets passed, allowing Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist refugees to become Indian citizens.
Shah accused Mamata Banerjee of vote-bank politics, spreading lies
Shah accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shielding infiltrators because "they're her vote bank." Shah also accused Banerjee of spreading lies on NRC for saying, "Mamata is telling people of Bengal that lakhs of Hindu refugees (from Bangladesh) would be thrown out if NRC happens. There cannot be a bigger lie." He then assured people that Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain refugees won't be expelled.
Mamata opposed infiltrators when they voted for Communists: Shah
Shah also recalled an August 2005 incident when Banerjee resigned from the Lok Sabha, flinging a bundle of papers at the then Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee in protest of illegal immigration in West Bengal. Shah said she opposed infiltrators when they voted for Communists, but "now that they've become her vote bank, she doesn't want them to be removed."
'No country can run smoothly with so many intruders'
Shah further said, "No country in the world can run smoothly with the weight of so many intruders. This series has to stop. We are working towards changing Bengal. We will have to implement NRC to ensure the country's safety."
Shah's remarks follow several deaths due to NRC panic
Now, let's talk about the National Register of Citizens. The database, enumerating genuine Indian citizens, was first prepared in 1951 and updated for the first time in Assam after a six-year-long exercise. However, the final Assam NRC list published in August excluded 19 lakh people. Many people committed suicide after exclusion from NRC (or fearing the same) in Assam.
Shah made similar remarks in the past
In fact, even last month at a meet in Guwahati, Shah had announced the Modi-led government's intention to implement NRC across India much to the opposition of Chief Ministers in the Northeastern states. The Banerjee-led All India Trinamool Congress government has also said that she would not allow NRC in West Bengal. The Trinamool Congress even branded the BJP an "anti-Bengali party" over NRC.
What is the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019?
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 lists the provision for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis who immigrated to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the past seven years. The current provision requires refugees to be residents for at least 12 years. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha in January, but couldn't be passed by Rajya Sabha.
Shah also paralleled Kashmir crisis to Bengal during India's partition
Shah also hailed the Centre's controversial move to revoke Article 370, repealing Jammu and Kashmir's special status. He paralleled the situation to West Bengal's during India's partition. He said, "During Partition, the entire Bengal was about to go to Pakistan. Then, it was our leader, Shyama Prasad Mukherji, who revolted & formed West Bengal." Mukherji was the founder of BJP's predecessor Bharatiya Jana Sangh.