Kolkata, Jan 18, 2020: Police in West Bengal used water cannons on Saturday to block a BJP delegation headed to Nandigram to spread awareness about citizenship policies that have been met with countrywide protests.
For weeks now, demonstrators across India have taken to the streets to oppose the amended Citizenship Act and the idea of a countrywide citizens register, an idea that the government publicly floated before backtracking recently. Faced with a backlash whose scale its leaders didn’t anticipate, the BJP has launched an outreach campaign.
The delegation attempting to reach Nandigram, located southwest of Kolkata, included state unit president Dilip Ghosh, who on Friday described intellectuals opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) as "spineless", "parasites" and "devils".
On Saturday, Ghosh mocked the state police by tweeting it had only "one duty" now: "to ignore the illegal immigration into the state and Rohingyas, and to oppose the BJP here".
Dilip Ghosh claimed the police had closed ferry services and blocked roads to prevent his party from holding a yatra in Nandigram. He said the video below was filmed in Khodambari, located some 15 km away.
’CAA in Bengal over my dead body’
The government has tried to calm fears about the CAA by pointing out that the new law, seen by critics as a threat to Muslims, does not take away citizenship.
The ongoing debate on the CAA and the NRC is especially relevant in West Bengal, a border state schuduled to hold an assembly election in 2021.
Buoyed by its performance in last year’s general election, the BJP is looking to unseat Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has said she CAA and NRC can only be enforced in West Bengal over "my dead body".
The WB police has only one duty now: to ignore d illegal immigration into the state & Rohingyas and to oppose the BJP here.— Dilip Ghosh (@DilipGhoshBJP) January 18, 2020
In order to stop BJP’s ’abhinandan yatra’ at Nandigram,police have closed all ferry service and has put barricades to block the roads.
-Live from Khodambari pic.twitter.com/8bfnxbWTck