Mamata seeks to give land rights to refugees in West Bengal

Mamata Banerjee seems to be at the forefront when it comes to speaking up against the National Register of Citizens (NRC ) and the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). Now, she is going a step further.

Mamata banerjee

Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, has now announced that her government will try to regularise all refugee colonies of up to three acres — on state government, central government as well as private land — and those living in these colonies would be given land rights. This decision comes at the heels of a call for a nation-wide NRC by Union Home Minister, Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha a few days ago, during the winter session. 

Mamata reportedly feels that refugees have the right and hence their settlements needed to be regularised as it has been nearly 50 years and the refugees have been without a home or land. In January, the TMC government had given freehold land rights to residents of 94 refugee colonies which were on state government land and had promised the same for another 237 colonies on private and central government land. Banerjee said over 13,000 and 12,000 families living on land owned by the state and central governments respectively would benefit from the decision.

During the 1971 East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) crisis and the resultant India-Pakistan war, millions of people fled East Pakistan and moved to India, especially West Bengal, as refugees.

BJP’s response

BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha accused Banerjee of “misleading” people. “First of all, the state government has no power or jurisdiction to transfer central government land to anyone.” He accused her of making frivolous announcements only to appease refugees and added that implementation of CAB will give refugees land rights anyway. He also added that BJP’s definition of refugees does not include infiltrators while Mamata Banerjee’s definition does.

By making such a statement, the BJP has once again, indirectly, implied that Muslim refugees are infiltrators who will not be given any rights, as the CAB, as per Amit Shah, will not provide citizenship to Muslim refugees.

Mamata and NRC

The Bengal CM has spoken vehemently against NRC and CAB. At an administrative review meeting in Siliguri town, she reiterated, “There is no question of detention camps. They have to do it through the state government, but we are not going to do that. You can be rest assured about it. There will be no detention camp in Bengal.” She has made assurances to people in Bengal and had famously said, “I’m your paharadar, nobody can displace you from Bengal’.

However, shockingly a few days, it was reported that 2 detention camps were set to come up in Bengal and the government claimed that they were being set up for accommodation of convicted foreign nationals.




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