Siliguri: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has ruled out setting up detention camps in West Bengal because her government does not have any plan to hold a National Register of Citizens ( NRC ) exercise.
“I am putting it on record in the administrative meeting. We have no plans to hold NRC in Bengal. The question of setting up detention camps therefore does not arise,” the CM said at the meeting held with officials from Cooch Behar, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri at Uttar Kanya here on Tuesday.
“The state government has to carry out the exercise. Assam did it because NRC was part of Assam Accord; the BJP government in Assam carried out the exercise. But we don’t have any such plans,” she added.
Banerjee timed her north Bengal tour to reassure its people when they are scared over developments in neighbouring Assam.
She opposed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the same vein. “First, the citizenship bill proposes to divide people over religion and second, it provides for a six-year waiting period before an applicant becomes a citizen. For instance, Bangsi Badan, sitting in front, will be made to wait for six years if he applies for citizenship. What will he do for all those six years? And there is no guarantee that all applicants will get citizenship,” the CM said.
Banerjee urged all to keep their minds free of the citizenship issue. “All residents of West Bengal are citizens. Don’t you cast your vote? Don’t you get rations from the public distribution system? Don’t your siblings go to school?” she said at the administrative meeting.
The CM also took stock of the process of distributing special ration cards to those who don’t avail rations but want the cards as proof of identity. “Hold special camps in the districts so that people can enrol themselves. I would appeal to officials to do the work with care and not just cancel applications on the slightest pretext,” she said.
Banerjee instructed district officials to engage ICDS and ASHA workers to reach out to households and see that genuine citizens were included on voters’ list. “Make sure people residing in Bengal are all accommodated on the voters’ list. At the same time, weed out double entries on the list.”
“A person who is already a voter in Assam should not be enrolled here even if he stays in Bengal for some time. I have come across a case where a voter in Kishenganj in neighbouring Bihar has enrolled himself as a voter in Islampur,” the CM added.