The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Five killed in protests against 'anti-Muslim' Indian citizenship law Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Five killed in protests against 'anti-Muslim' Indian citizenship law

Rights groups and a Muslim political party are challenging the law [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 December, 2019

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Tension remained high at the epicentre of the unrest in Assam state's biggest city, Guwahati, with a fresh demonstration expected on Sunday.
Five people died, including three after being shot by police, following violent protests in northeast India over a contentious anti-Muslim citizenship law, with authorities maintaining internet bans and curfews in some regions.

Tension remained high at the epicentre of the unrest in Assam state's biggest city, Guwahati, with a fresh demonstration expected on Sunday over the legislation even as some shops opened amid an easing of the curfew during the day.

The legislation, passed by the national parliament on Wednesday, allows New Delhi to grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants who entered India from three neighbouring countries on or before December 31, 2014 - but not if they are Muslim.

In Assam, three people died in hospital after being shot, while another died when a shop he was sleeping in was set on fire and a fifth after he was beaten up during a protest, officials said.

Train services were also suspended in some parts of the east on Sunday after violence in eastern West Bengal state, with demonstrators torching trains and buses.

Read more: Pondering their future in their own homeland: Muslims fearful in a hate filled India

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.

"Culture, language, social identity and political rights of our brothers and sisters from northeast will remain intact," Shah told a rally in eastern Jharkhand state, News18 television network reported him as saying.

For Islamic groups, the opposition, rights activists and others in India, the new law is seen as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist agenda to marginalise India's 200 million Muslims. He denies the allegation.

Rights groups and a Muslim political party are challenging the law in the Supreme Court, arguing that it is against the constitution and India's secular traditions.

The US State Department on Thursday urged India to "protect the rights of its religious minorities", according to Bloomberg.

Read more: Modi's Crusade: Citizenship Amendment Bill paves the way for an India without Islam

The UN human rights office said it was concerned the law "would appear to undermine the commitment to equality before the law enshrined in India's constitution".

But many in the northeast object for different reasons, fearing that immigrants from Bangladesh - many of them Hindus - will become citizens, taking jobs and diluting the area's cultural identity.

The passage of the law sparked angry scenes in both houses of parliament this week, with one lawmaker likening it to anti-Jewish legislation by the Nazis in 1930s Germany.

The chief ministers of several Indian states - West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh - have said they will not implement the law.

West Bengal's firebrand leader Mamata Banerjee, who has called for major protests in state capital Kolkata on Monday, said Modi wanted to "divide the nation".

"It is completely unconstitutional and goes against the idea of India," Aditya Mukherjee, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told the NDTV channel.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay connected

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More