Protests against Citizenship Act stir continue in Bengal, Internet services suspended in 6 districts
Kolkata: Protests over the amended Citizenship Act continued to rock various parts of West Bengal for the third consecutive day on Sunday while Internet services were suspended by the state government in six districts.
Internet services were suspended in Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Howrah, North 24 Parganas and parts of South 24 Parganas districts to prevent rumour-mongering and circulation of fake news, especially on social media, a senior government official said.
"Despite several requests by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, it was found that a few communal outfits have been carrying out violent protests and trying to spread false propaganda.
"In view of the situation, the administration has decided to temporarily suspend Internet services in six districts of the state," the official said.
In South 24 Parganas district, Internet services were suspended in Baruipur and Canning sub-divisions, he said.
Incidents of violence, loot and arson were reported from Nadia, Birbhum, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Howrah districts, police said.
Meanwhile, a state BJP delegation met Prime minister Narendra Modi at Andal airport in West Burdwan district when he was proceeding to Dumka in Jharkhand to address an election rally, and apprised him about the "worsening" law and order in West Bengal.
In Amdanga and Kalyani areas of North 24 Parganas and Nadia districts, agitators blocked thoroughfares, and set fire to wooden logs on the streets.
Shops were also ransacked and tyres burnt in Deganga area of North 24 Parganas.
In South 24 Paraganas district, railway services were badly affected in Nungi and Akra stations as protesters blocked railway tracks, ransacked Akra station and set fire on railway tracks. The mob also looted money kept at the ticketing counter of the station.
When the police tried to control the mob, stones were pelted at the police personnel, injuring several police personnel, officials said.
In Nadia, demonstrators blocked Kalyani Expressway.
Some of the agitators were seen burning copies of the amended Citizenship Act.
Similar protests were reported from Domjur area of Howrah district, and parts of Burdwan and Birbhum, with agitators taking out rallies and raising slogans against the Narendra Modi government.
The police and RAF carried out area domination in various parts of Uluberia, including the station area. The police made announcements asking people to maintain law and order.
In Malda district, protestors ransacked Bhaluka railway station and organized a road and rail blockade at Sagardighi.
Huge police contingents have been rushed to the troubled areas to control the situation.
Three express trains have been cancelled and several trains are running behind schedule due to blockades.
The cost of damages, assessed so far, to railway property during the protest in Kharagpur division on Friday and Saturday is around Rs 12.75 crore. This includes damage to railway stations and level crossings and excludes revenue loss.
Meanwhile, the ruling Trinamool Congress on Sunday took out peaceful rallies in various parts of the state in protest against the amended Citizenship Act.
Several senior TMC leaders, including ministers, led rallies in the districts appealing to people to maintain calm and refrain from engaging in violence.
West Bengal Chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, will hit the streets from Monday in protest against the new Citizenship Act.
Banerjee has already declared that the amended Citizenship Act will not be implemented in Bengal.
Senior TMC leader and state education minister Partha Chatterjee appealed for peace and assured the protesters that the amended Act would not be implemented in the state.
"We would appeal to everybody to maintain calm and peace. We can assure you that law won't be implemented in Bengal," Chatterjee said.
Meanwhile, state president of BJP Dilip Ghosh described the move to suspend Internet services in the districts as a ploy to stop the "real facts" from coming out.
"This cannot be a step to stop the ongoing unrest in the state. It is nothing but a ploy of the state government to stop the real facts from coming out in the open. They have imposed ban on Internet so that people in other parts of the country do not come to know about the kind of atrocities going on in those places," Ghosh told reporters here.
West Bengal BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu accused the ruling TMC government of doing little to control the deteriorating law and order situation.
Violent protests against the Citizenship Act have rocked several parts of the state over the past two days with agitators torching buses, railways stations and vandalising public property.
According to the amended Act, non-Muslim refugees, who escaped religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and moved to India before December 31, 2014, will be granted Indian citizenship.