Hundreds arrested in India during days of protests over citizenship law

Hundreds arrested in India during days of protests over citizenship law

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: More than 1,500 protesters have been arrested across India in the past 10 days, officials said, as police try to quell sometimes violent demonstrations against a citizenship law that critics say undermines the country’s secular constitution.

Additionally, officials said some 4,000 people have been detained and then released.

“Those arrested and detained had been resorting to violence during the protests,” said two senior federal government officials overseeing the country’s internal security who spoke on condition of anonymity.

At least 19 people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters since parliament passed the law on Dec. 11. Critics of the law say it discriminates against Muslims and threatens India’s secular ethos because it makes religion a criteria for citizenship.

The law aims to grant citizenship to minorities of the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, Jain and Parsi faiths from Muslim majority Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, deemed as suffering persecution there. The applicant should have entered India on or before Dec. 31, 2014.

Hundreds of protesters and police have been injured in the protests, the strongest show of dissent against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government since he was first elected in 2014.

Government sources said Modi yesterday met his council of ministers to discuss security measures related to the protests.

Demonstrations continued on Saturday despite curfews and tough measures aimed at shutting down the protests.

India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, has seen the worst violence with nine people killed and several more in critical conditions in hospital. The state, which has long seen clashes between majority Hindus and minority Muslims, is ruled by Modi’s nationalist party.

Rights activists in the state said police had raided their houses and offices to prevent them from planning fresh demonstrations. Authorities also shut schools across the state as fresh protests erupted on Saturday.


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Citizenship Amendment BillIndia