West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday (December 26) urged agitating students to continue their protests against the amended Citizenship law and warned the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against “playing with fire”. She also alleged the students, who are speaking against the new law, are being threatened by the BJP.
Students have been at the forefront of the protests against the new law and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), with several college and university students taking to the streets to press their demand of withdrawing what they term a discriminatory legislation.
Speaking at a rally in Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress supremo asked students to carry on with their protests and that she will always be by their side. “Do not fear anybody. I warn the BJP not to play with fire,” Banerjee said.
“We express our solidarity with the students of Jamia Millia, IIT Kanpur and other universities who are protesting against the CAA and the NRC,” she said. They have been also asked to vacate hostel rooms, she said. Thursday’s rally by Banerjee was the fifth by her in 11 days in and around the city to build up a movement on the contentious law.
Banerjee said the protesting students are adults and voters. “So if they stage any protest, where is the harm in it? They have a role to play,” she said and suggested they use social media to unite people.
In Kolkata, students of Jadavpur University, along with other institutions, have been protesting against the new law and standing in solidarity against the alleged police brutality on the Jamia students on December 16. The JU students have boycotted their chancellor, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, at their convocation and a section of students have even refused to take their degrees in protest.
The chief minister also criticised her Karnataka counterpart BS Yediyurappa for putting on hold compensation to families of two people killed in police firing on anti-CAA protesters in Mangaluru. Yediyurappa had said the government would not give a single rupee compensation to their families if investigations proved they were involved in violence during the December 19 protest.
Banerjee hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, “If you chase out everybody how will you stay?” TMC, she said, will fight for all the communities, “Because this is Hindustan. We will not allow any party to snatch away our rights. If needed we will lay down our lives to protect the movement against CAA”.
Keeping up her attack on the BJP, she said, “We do not do politics of hatred like the BJP, but politics of love,” and TMC will not allow anyone to take away the rights of the people. The saffron party is trying to create confusion among the people by making contradictory statements.
“It is a ploy of the BJP to defame any peaceful movement. So I request everyone to keep a strict vigil on any move to divide the people of the country. We will not allow anyone to split this movement of the people,” Banerjee said. “The BJP is trying to snatch away our rights,” she said and asked the people, “particularly our mothers and sisters,” to keep a close watch and put up a resistance so that the movement against CAA is not diluted or derailed.
Taking a dig at Modi for his comment that rioters against CAA can be identified by their clothes, Banerjee said, “BJP will use similar clothes to derail the ongoing movement against the CAA.”