Suresh Angadi blamed opposition parties for the agitation against the amended Citizenship Act.
New Delhi: Four days after people protesting the amended Citizenship Act set fire to a railway station in Bengal's Murshidabad, a Union Minister on Tuesday warned that anybody resorting to such acts would be shot at sight by the authorities.
"I have told the district administration and railway authorities concerned that if anybody destroys public property, they can be shot at sight. I am giving this directive as a Union Minister," Suresh Angadi, the Union Minister of State for Railways, told news agency ANI.
The controversial statement comes amid nationwide protests against the amended Citizenship Act, which aims to make it easier for non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to become Indian nationals.
Protesters had set the Beldanga railways station complex in Murshidabad afire on December 13, despite appeals for calm from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. They also assaulted Railway Police Force personnel at the station.
Mr Angadi said that such violence cannot be condoned when the Railways already suffers major losses in West Bengal and the Northeast. "As many as 13 lakh employees work there day and night to ensure that people have good transport facilities. But some anti-social elements supported by the opposition are creating problems," he said, demanding that the government take stringent action against protesters "like Vallabhbhai Patel would have".
The Union Minister claimed that opposition parties were misleading people into protesting against the amended Citizenship Act even though it does not pose any threat to genuine citizens. "We are only giving migrants from minority communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh the right to stay in India, and local minorities will not be affected. But some people are trying to destabilise the economy," he said.
Railway services between West Bengal and Northeast were brought to a complete halt on Monday on account of ongoing agitations. Officials said all trains heading from Howrah, Sealdah and Kolkata stations to north Bengal have also been suspended until further notice, keeping in mind the safety of passengers.
Earlier on Tuesday, as many as 17 Odisha-bound trains were cancelled in view of the ongoing agitation.-ndtv