A leader of India’s ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in eastern West Bengal has stirred controversy on Sunday after saying that provincial governments in BJP-ruled states shot anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) “like dogs”.
BJP state Chief Dilip Ghosh noted that all three states where protesters died during the protests are ruled by the BJP – Uttar Pradesh, where 18 people died, Assam (5) and Karnataka (2).
Ghosh’s comment follows allegations that the government of eastern West Bengal was soft on agitators who damaged public property.
“Mamata Banerjee’s police didn't take action against the people who destroyed public properties as they are her voters. Our govt in UP, Assam and Karnataka has shot these people like dogs,” Ghosh said.
Mamata Banerjee, Chief of West Bengal and the founder of regional Trinamool Congress has strongly opposed the law and vowed not to implement it in her state.
Ghosh came down heavily against Banerjee for “not opening fire and resorting to baton charge” against those who resorted to vandalism and destructed public property after railway stations and several train coaches were set on fire by protesters in Murshidabad.
Addressing a gathering at Nadia district of West Bengal, Ghosh, who termed the protesters ‘anti national elements’ and claimed, “…the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka did the right thing by opening fire on these anti-national elements.”
Ever since the passage of the law by the Indian parliament, many states including the capital New Delhi saw violent protests. Uttar Pradesh arrested hundreds of protesters and slapped compensation demands on them for property damaged during the agitations.
The BJP distanced itself from Ghosh's comments. A junior minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ministry, Babul Supriyo said in a tweet, “BJP has nothing to do with what Dilip Ghosh may have said. It is a figment of his imagination and BJP governments in UP, and Assam have never resorted to shooting people for whatever reason whatsoever. Very irresponsible of Dilip to have said what he said.”
The amendments to the Indian Citizenship Act, passed by the Parliament on December 13, allow citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Conspicuously, Muslims were left out of the law, leading to protests that the law is discriminatory and unconstitutional.