Protests erupt against Citizenship Act in Bengal

Protests erupt against Citizenship Act in Bengal

Muslim community members block the National Highway 6 during a protest against NRC and the Citizenship Amendment Bill, in West Bengal’s Uluberia district. (PTI photo)

Protests erupted against the contentious Citizenship Act in several districts of West Bengal including Kolkata on Friday. There have been incidents of road and rail blockades where protesters pelted stones at passenger trains.

Trouble started at Uluberia Railway Station in Howrah district. At around 2 pm nearly 250 agitators blocked the nearby National Highway VI. Although a large police contingent reached the spot, even then agitators did not lift the blockade.

Then at around 3.22 pm the agitators went to the Uluberia Railway station and staged a rail blockade. They also pelted stones at several trains.

“ The blockade started at 3.22 pm and it is still continuing. So far we have not received any reports of passengers being injured in the agitation,” Sanjoy Ghosh, South Eastern Railway spokesperson told DH.

The protesters also piled tires on the tracks and set them ablaze. The incident created severe panic among passengers.

Sources in the Railways said that the driver of the 12481 Howrah-Chennai Coromandel Express was injured due to stone-pelting. The agitators vandalised the platform and an empty rake of the Humsafar Express.

According to a statement issued by the South Eastern Railway seven express trains were delayed due to the blockade at Uluberia Railway Station. Fifteen local trains were stopped at various stations. Three express trains were cancelled.

“During the agitation Uluberia station has been ransacked by the mob. Eight computers used for ticketing and approx Rs. 4 lakh of cash has been taken away. The assessment of the total loss in Railway property is under process,” said a statement by the South Eastern Railway.

Protesters set a portion of the Beldanga Railway station in Murshidabad district on fire. Roads were also blocked by protesters as they set ablaze tires in the middle of the road to stop traffic. Several RPF kiosks were burnt.

At Beldanga the National Highwayb34 was blocked by protesters. The agitators also staged road blockades at several places in Beldanga. A large police contingent along with RAF and combat forces have been deployed. Similar incidents took place in Baharampur although the agitation there lasted about a couple of hours.

According to a statement issued by the South Eastern Railway seven express and 11 local trains have been delayed due to the blockade at Uluberia Railway Station.

Roads were blocked by protesters in the Park Circus area of Kolkata for about an hour in protest against the Citizenship Act. The protesters burnt tires on the road.

Road blockades were also held in the Mohammad Bazar area of Birbhum district in the afternoon. It lasted for about an hour.

Earlier in the day, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged people to protest in a “democratic and peaceful manner.” Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar requested people to “respect the law.”