After a string of protests erupted in the Northeast against amended Citizenship Act, the stir has spread to other parts of India, including West Bengal, Delhi and Mumbai.
Protesters torched about five trains, three railway stations and tracks, setting on fire of at least 25 buses and damaging other property. The protestors targeted railway properties and Murshidabad, Malda and Howrah districts bore the brunt of their ire.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has resolutely opposed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, appealed for peace, while the opposition BJP threatened to seek imposition of President’s Rule if the “mayhem by Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators continued”.
She appealed to people to maintain calm and protest democratically. “Do not take up law in your hand. Do not put up road blockades and rail blockades and create trouble for the common people on the roads,” Banerjee said in a statement released from the chief minister’s office. “Do not cause damage to government properties. Strict action would be taken against those who are found guilty in creating disturbances,” the statement quoted her as saying.
According to official sources, public property worth crores of rupees have either been destroyed or have been looted by the mob in various parts of the state.
At Krishnapur station in Murshidabad district a number of empty trains were set on fire, besides railway tracks at Lalgola station, which they also ransacked. The agitators vandalised Sujnipara also in Murshidabad district and set fire on railway tracks at Harishchandrapur in neighbouring Malda district.
They ransacked Sankrail railway station in Howrah district, torched its ticket counter and damaged the signalling system. “When RPF and railway personnel tried to stop them, they were beaten up,” a senior Railway Protection Force official said.
At Domjur and Bagnan in Howrah, protestors rampaged outside the stations, blocked roads and set fire to shops.
After the incident, the Central Railway has cancelled some express trains to and from Howrah in West Bengal in view of the ongoing agitations.
While Howrah-Pune Duranto Express has been cancelled on Saturday, Pune-Howrah Duranto Express has been cancelled for want of rake for December 16, stated a release issued by the Central Railway’s Nagpur division on Saturday.
Other trains that are cancelled on Saturday are Howrah-CSMT Geetanjali Express and Shalimar-LTT Express. Their pair trains leaving CSMT in Mumbai for respective destinations will not run on December 16, it said.
.@MamataOfficial. Distressed and pained at events unfolding in the State. Chief Minister as per oath has to ‘bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India..’ and I as Governor will ‘to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law’
— Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) December 14, 2019
Anti-CAB / NRC protesters have blocked the national highway near Salap in Domjur. They have also burnt tyres and the effigies of PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Several private buses have been set on fire by angry protesters on Kona highway.
Indian Oil Corp (IOC) on Saturday (December 14) has been forced to shut down its Digboi refinery in Assam and is operating Guwahati unit at minimal throughput, while Oil India Ltd has been forced to shut LPG production and its crude oil production has dropped by 15-20 per cent, multiple sources at the state-owned companies said.
With limited storage capacity, the companies have been forced to curtail production in absence of products being evacuated, they said.
Oil India Ltd has shut LPG production for the same reason, they said, adding the agitation has also limited movement of employees and officers who work at the refineries and oil installations.
An oil tanker was set ablaze in Assam’s Sonitpur district, killing its driver, even as protests against the amended Citizenship Act continued on Saturday across the state amid a rail blockade, sit-ins and hunger strikes by different organisations, officials said.
In Delhi, scores of people gathered at Jantar Mantar to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. People from all walks of life came out in solidarity with those opposing the new law. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has closed entry and exit gates at Janpath metro station in view of the protest. But, it was reopened after being closed for nearly two hours.
Entry & exit gates at all stations have been opened.
Normal services have resumed in all stations.
— Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (@OfficialDMRC) December 14, 2019
Similarly, a group of city residents who hail from Assam staged a demonstration in south Mumbai.
(With inputs from agencies)