Matuas’ land and rights are safe under TMC: Mamata Banerjee

KOLKATA: At a time when the BJP is going all out to woo the Matua community, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee reiterated her opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act that promises to benefit the community. Speaking at Ranaghat on Monday, she said the community will lose “its land and identity” if the CAA is implemented, touching on the most pressing issue which the Matuas have been demanding.

“I am asking my Matua brothers and sisters… how long have you been in Bengal? You are safe and secure under this state government. Matuas are already citizens. Then, why will the BJP feed (you) the Citizenship Bill like the “Moa sweet” (a Bengali dessert). After the Citizenship Bill will be applied, you will have no land/no identity,” she said, adding that as long as the TMC is in power, the BJP will not be allowed to declare “anyone living in the state”, a non-citizen.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to visit the Matua community headquarters in Bongaon on January 30 to talk to the community leaders who have been raising questions on the non-implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Bongao MP, and one of the prominent Matua leaders, Shantanu Thakur had written to the Central Government twice in recent months for the implementation of CAA. However, Thakur clarified last week that he was hopeful that the BJP will fulfil the demand and that he will not support “those who oppose it”.

During his last visit to Bengal, Shah said that the CAA will be rolled out after the vaccination process gets done, and had blamed the delay on Covid-19. Many important exercises such as Census 2021 have also been postponed due to Covid-19.

Meanwhile, speaking at Nadia, which has a significant Matua population, Banerjee said the TMC has given the Matuas water, education and electricity.

“In all the 96 colonies, refugees have received pattas (free hold title-deeds). I have taken out a lot of rallies with the refugees. Around 1.5 lakh people will receive pattas, wherever they are staying. We will also give 5,000 pattas,” she said. She also warned them “not to make Bengal another Assam where many Bengalis have not been named in the NRC,” she said.

The Matua community, mostly Hindu refugees who have migrated to India from Bangladesh after 1971, is concentrated mostly in the North and South 24 Parganas, with some spread across Cooch Behar, Uttar Dinajpur, Malda and Nadia.

Permanent citizenship had been a long-standing demand of the Matuas, also known as namasudras classified as SCs.

General secretary of Bengal BJP, Pratap Banerjee, said the CM was misleading the people on what the CAA was, and said she was on the defensive because she had not done much for the community.

“Why hasn’t she done anything to give dignity to the Matuas all these years? She had ten years. The PM has assured the Matuas that they will be given citizenship respectfully, which is what they also have been asking for.”

The CM added that the country is staring at a food crisis and famine because of the “adamant” approach of the BJP to the continued agitation by farmers for withdrawal of the three new farm laws. Calling the BJP a “junk” party for inducting “rotten” leaders from other political outfits, she said the supporters of BJP will behave like Donald Trump supporters when they lose the Bengal election.

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