KOLKATA: Speaking out for the first time against National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee called the exercise to determine original inhabitants of Assam a conspiracy to expel Bengalis out of Assam and compared NRC with the 1960s ethnic cleansing ‘Bongal Kheda’ movement.
Addressing a public rally at Amodpur in Birbhum district of West Bengal on Wednesday, the Trinamool Congress supremo warned that ethnic problems in Assam would invariably have effects in West Bengal. “I urge BJP not to play with fire. People are being removed from their native land with this conspiracy of NRC. If Bengalis are attacked or expelled from Assam, we would not keep quiet,” she warned resulting in a huge applause.
She drew comparisons of NRC with the 1960s ‘Bongal Kheda’ or ‘Expel Bengalis’ ethnic cleansing movement in Assam when nearly 50,000 Bengalis of Assam had to flee the state and take shelter in West Bengal. Another 14,000 Bengalis fled to West Bengal during the 1972-73 Language Riots in Assam. “If Bengalis chose to stay in Assam, they have to be embraced,” she said.
Names of more than 70 per cent of Bengali speakers have reportedly not come up in the first draft of NRC, the most affected being Bengali-dominated Barak Valley in south Assam. The CM urged Trinamool Congress MPs to stage a protest at the Parliament on Thursday against NRC.
The West Bengal chief minister also took potshots at the Centre over the Triple Talaaq Bill saying that the bill would deteriorate the condition of Muslim women. “The motive behind the bill was political. I warn BJP not to interfere in religious matters,” she said. The TMC supremo even went on to claim that only her party could provide security to women.
She also did not miss the opportunity to attack the Centre on Financial Regulatory and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill. “They want us to link Adhaar number with the bank account. I would do that only if the Centre promises that the money in my account will be safe and not stolen in the name of FRDI Bill,” she said.