Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today dubbed last week’s violence in Delhi as “state-sponsored genocide” and said the BJP was trying to replicate the “Gujarat model of riots” across the country. More than 45 people have died in the violence, which spiked on Monday after a slow start the day before.
Given that hate speeches by a section of BJP leaders are seen as a catalyst to the violence, Ms Banerjee also strongly condemned the “goli maaro” slogans that were raised in Kolkata yesterday ahead of a rally addressed by union minister Amit Shah.
“I am deeply pained by the killing of innocent people in Delhi. I think it is a planned genocide. I am calling it a genocide because it was state-sponsored violence that was later projected as riots,” she said.
Then elaborating, she added, “The Delhi Police is under the Centre. There was Delhi police, CRPF, CISF but nobody did anything. Everybody was inactive,” alleged the Chief Minister, who has been engaged in a bitter tussle with the BJP over the last few years.
The BJP has been making steady advances in Bengal, a state it hopes to rule after the next assembly election in 2021. In last year’s Lok Sabha election, it grabbed 18 of the state’s 42 seats in place of the two it had in the last election.
The BJP, Ms Banerjee said, should apologise for the Delhi riots.
“The BJP is trying to replicate the Gujarat model of riots across India, including in West Bengal,” said the chief minister, who was accused of “instigating riots” and “burning trains” by Amit Shah over the citizenship law.
The Bengal Chief Minister has been one of the most vocal opponents of the law, and held several foot marches against it in Kolkata and its outskirts. Critics say the Citizenship Amendment Act, taken together with the National Register of Citizens, would be used by the government to target and harass the Muslims.
The violence in Delhi had started last week as clashes between supporters and opponents of the citizenship law, meant to expedite citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who had to flee due to religious persecution.
But soon, the violence spiralled. For more than four days, goons armed with iron rods, stones and hockey sticks took to the street, thrashing, burning and looting. By the end of it, 46 people were dead, and more than 200 were injured.