Mamata calls NRC discriminatory, BJP says will replicate it in Bengal if voted to power

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday lashed out at Centre over the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), which she claimed was aimed at evicting Bengalis and Biharis from Assam.

She said she would send a team of her Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs to Assam while the BJP warned it would replicate the exercise to throw out illegal “Bangladeshi immigrants” if it comes to power in Bengal.

As many as 4 million people were left out of the second and final draft published on Monday out of 32.9 million, who had applied for inclusion in the NRC.

“We are worried because people are being made refugees in their own country. It is a plan to throw out Bengali-speaking people and Biharis. Consequences will be felt in our state also,” Banerjee said at a press conference. “As many as four million Bengalis have been declared non-Indians. Bengal and Assam share borders. Other states would not be as adversely affected as Bengal. Bengal and Bangladesh will be the most affected.”

When asked whether her government would offer shelter to those left out of NRC, she said, “We will give it a thought. But let me ask, why would they be thrown out in the first place?” She called for a law to protect those left out.

“What will happen, if they want to push them back and if Bangladesh does not want to take them back? Parliament must legislate to protect these human beings.”

Banerjee claimed people with documents like voter cards, passports, bank accounts and Aadhaar cards have not been recognised as citizens.

She said she would speak to Union home minister Rajnath Singh. “There is a UN resolution to give shelter to refugees in distress,” she said. “They are settled in Assam with businesses and establishments. How can they be excluded? They have been staying there for decades, even for 50 to 100 years.”

Banerjee blamed the Centre for creating “unnecessary provocation” although the Supreme Court has monitored the NRC exercise. “The court is not to be blamed. The government of India did not oppose it. Why did not the Centre legislate to protect them? They are creating an unnecessary provocation.”

She questioned Rajnath Singh’s assurance that there is no cause for panic.

BJP’s state unit president, Dilip Ghosh, hit back saying a similar exercise would be conducted in West Bengal to “kick out illegal Bangladeshi immigrants” if the party comes to power.

“Mamata Banerjee is unnecessarily muddying the waters. The Assam government is not targeting bonafide citizens,’’ said BJP national secretary, Rahul Sinha.

First Published: Jul 30, 2018 23:18 IST

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