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West Bengal: Trains, rail stations vandalised by mobs

Published : Dec 16, 2019, 6:14 am IST
Updated : Dec 16, 2019, 6:14 am IST

Internet curbs in 4 districts , Army may be called if crisis worsens.

Police jawans try to protect themselves as protesters throw stones on them during an agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) at Santragachi in Howrah district of West Bengal on Saturday. (Photo: PTI)
 Police jawans try to protect themselves as protesters throw stones on them during an agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) at Santragachi in Howrah district of West Bengal on Saturday. (Photo: PTI)

Kolkata/Behrampore: Failing to control the large-scale violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government has suspended Internet services in four districts and two subdivisions each in two more districts for 48 hours, as fierce protests entered their third day, which saw an attack on BJP MP Arjun Singh by an angry mob in the early hours. The Trinamul Congress government has also kept the option of calling in the Army for deployment in violence-affected districts only if the trouble escalates further, sources said. The four districts are Howrah, Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur. Of these, Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajur share a border with Bangladesh. The subdivision areas are Barasat and Basirhat in North 24 Parganas, also near the international border, and Canning and Baruipur in South 24 Parganas.

On Sunday afternoon, the state government declared its move after reviewing the situation that has turned from bad to worse. “Under the circumstances, left with no other alternative, Internet services are being temporarily suspended in the districts of Uttar Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Howrah, and parts of North 24 Parganas (Basirhat and Barasat subdivisions) and parts of South 24 Parganas (Baruipur and Canning subdivisions),” it said.

West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, meanwhile, has summoned state chief secretary Rajiva Sinha and director-general of police Virendra to Raj Bhavan on Monday morning. “Taking note of highly disturbing developments in the state that seriously compromise our constitutional values and rule of law, both the chief secretary and director-general of police have been called upon to see me tomorrow at Raj Bhavan at 10 am and brief me on the situation,” he tweeted.

The state government has complained that “some externally mobilised communal forces (were) inciting violence and conspiring to create disorder”. The district magistrate (Malda) has suspended the Internet services for a 48 hours from 2 pm, sources said. Murshidabad, the worst affected district, witnessed another round of vandalism at three railway stations — Rejinagar, Manigram and Sujunipara — where armed protesters went on a rampage and set railway properties ablaze. Sujunipara station was set on fire.

Outnumbering the Railway Protection Force and police personnel, they torched many rooms lying empty at the railway quarters. At least 10 RPF personnel were injured and three of their vehicles were torched. In Malda, at least two railway stations — Bhaluka Road and Chanchol — were ransacked by the demonstrators. While the tracks were derailed, Chanchol station was set on fire. At Baishnabnagar, some people tried to torch the National Highway 34 toll plaza.

At Harishchandrapur, angry people burnt tyres on railway tracks. Birbhum also saw protests and road blockades. Akra railway station in South 24 Parganas was vandalised by a mob of 500 people after burning tyres on the tracks to block train movement in broad daylight. Late on Saturday night Barrackpore’s BJP MP came under attack when he was returning home in his car from Kakinara in North 24 Parganas.

He alleged that a group of armed men hurled bricks on his car before hurling bombs. Mr Singh escaped unhurt. Alleging there was no law and order in the state, he demanded that President’s Rule be imposed. Earlier, a state BJP delegation led by general secretary Biswapriya Roy Chowdhury met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Andal airport in Burdwan West, where he halted on his way to an election rally in

Jharkhand, to apprise him of the state’s grim law and order situation.

In the evening, the Eastern Railway said it cancelled 30 express trains, a record, including some North Bengal-bound and Northeast-bound trains for the next three to four days. In the morning, the South Eastern Railway announced the cancellation of 15 trains, including the Howrah Express from Tirupati and Ernakulam, while 10 more trains, including Shalimar Express from Thiruvananthapuram, were partially cancelled.

Tags: citizenship (amendment) act, national register of citizens, mamata banerjee government
Location: India, West Bengal, Calcutta [Kolkata]