Protests against Indian citizenship law extend to fourth day

Elias Hubbard
December 16, 2019

Tensions also simmered in Guwahati in Assam state, the epicentre of the unrest, where medical staff said two people were shot dead and 26 hospitalised late Thursday after security forces fired live rounds.

Demonstrators have been protesting since the passage Wednesday of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which creates an expedited path to citizenship for migrants who entered the country illegally and belong to one of six religions, excluding Islam.

Police had been using loudspeakers since Sunday to inform people about the curfew relaxation and its re-imposition.

"Assam will continue to protest". "We stand by this approach and condemn any party involved in the violence". "Assamese will not stop until government revokes the law", another demonstrator, Pratima Sharma, said.

Officials said oil and gas production in the state were hit by the curfew, although the restrictions were eased during the day on Sunday with some shops opening.

"Today's meeting also appealed to the people to maintain peace and order in the state", he said.

In the heart of India's capital New Delhi, hundreds of students gathered within and outside the gates of the Jamia Milia University, making speeches and holding peaceful protests against the citizenship law amid a heavy police presence.

Protests turned violent in West Bengal state, a hotbed of political unrest, with at least 20 buses and parts of two railway stations set on fire as demonstrators blocked roads and set fire to tyres.

Some schools in southern Delhi have been asked to remain closed on Monday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a member of the BJP, introduced the bill after his reelection victory earlier this year.

Protests have raged across northern and eastern India since the law was passed. "They (Congress supporters) are resorting to arson because they did not get their way".

Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday called again for calm, saying local cultures in northeastern states were not under threat, amid fears the new law will grant citizenship to large numbers of immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Islamic groups, the opposition and rights organisations say the law is a part of Modi's Hindu nationalist agenda to marginalise India's 200 million Muslims. He denies the allegation.

Activists say the new law violates the country's Constitution and secular standards, and human rights observers internationally have expressed concern that it will have a discriminatory effect against Muslims in the country.

Asom Gana Parishad - an ally of Modi's Bharatiya Janata party in Assam which had supported the bill in parliament - told local media it now meant to challenge the law in the supreme court.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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