Why seek citizenship proof after 72 years, asks Mamata

Mamata Banerjee – The News Mill

Hitting the streets against the National Register for Citizens published in Assam, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday rued that people were being asked to prove their citizenship 72 years after freedom and reiterated that she won’t accept any such exercise in her state.

Warning the BJP that she and her party would not remain silent if even one person was “touched” in Bengal by enforcing an NRC, Banerjee said a lot many people in Assam did not make it to the final list despite submitting birth certificates, identity cards and even 30-year-old certificates.

“Moreover, I am a free citizen of an independent nation. Why should you take away my freedom? The country has become independent 72 years back. Why should one now have to prove one’s citizenship?” she asked while leading a protest rally from north Kolkata’s Chiria More to Shyambazar Five Point crossing.

Challenging the BJP to try an NRC exercise in Bengal, she said: “Just lay your hands on one person, you will see.”

The Trinamool Congress supremo also warned the BJP-led Central government not to intimidate her by using the central agencies. “You will see how the might of the people rail against the might of the agencies.”

In an effort to justify her stance on the NRC issue, she said: “Out of the 19 lakh people who have been excluded from the Assam NRC list, 12 lakhs are Hindus, one lakh are from the Gorkha community. There are Hindi-speaking people, Muslims, Buddhists.”

Banerjee said she was opposed to the NRC for the sake of people from every religion – be they Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians.

Thousands of Trinamool workers and supporters took part in the two kilometre long rally. State ministers, Trinamool heavyweights, the youth and women leaders were also part of the march.

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