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Protests against an “anti-Muslim” law on citizenship in India

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — New protests erupted across India on Monday, with anger growing against a law on citizenship considered anti-Islam, after six protesters were killed in the northeast of the country and about 200 others were injured in New Delhi alone.

The new law passed by parliament allows the Indian government to grant citizenship to millions of non-Muslim immigrants from three neighboring countries. But opponents say the law is part of India’s nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi program to marginalize India’s nearly 200 million Muslims.

Moody denied this Monday. He wrote in a tweet on Twitter that the new law “does not affect any Indian citizen of any religion,” accusing “established interest groups” of fueling the “very sad” turmoil.

Former opposition Congress Party chief Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter on Monday that the law and the widespread citizen registration procedure that are also seen as anti-Muslim are “weapons of mass polarization launched by fascists.”

The United Nations Office for Human Rights, over the past week, was concerned that the law “appears to undermine the commitment to equality under the law stipulated in the Indian constitution,” while Washington and the European Union have also expressed their concerns.

New protests erupted on Monday in Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Lucknow as hundreds of students, mostly Muslims, tried to storm a police station and threw a barrage of stones at police officers who had hidden behind a wall, as shown in television footage.

In the east of the country in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal state, thousands gathered in a major demonstration called by Regional Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is a staunch opponent of Modi.

In recent days, empty train carriages were burned in the state, while the Internet continued on Monday.

In Kerala in the south of the country, another state whose government refuses to implement the nationality law, hundreds of people protested. “We now need to unify the work of all secular forces,” wrote state finance minister Thomas Isaac.

In northeast India, the locals oppose even naturalization of non-Muslims from the three countries for fear of threatening their culture from Bengali-speaking Hindus. These countries are Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Burning buses and cars –

Students gathered again on Monday at the Islamic University of Malia the day after police fired tear gas at protesting students and beat them with batons before storming the campus.

Shri Kumar, the student, said the law was “hostile to Muslims and against the spirit of India and the secular ideas of India.”

Police spokesman MS Randhawa said that the protests resulted in the destruction of four buses, 100 private cars and ten police bicycles, noting that the police committed themselves to “maximum restraint and a minimum use of force” in exchange for “provocations”.

Media reported that protests also took place in the cities of Bombay, West Bengal, Aligarh, Hyderabad, Patna and Raipur Sunday and Saturday.

Meanwhile, authorities in Uttar Pradesh in the north of the country cut off internet services in the western parts of the state following demonstrations in Allegar, which includes a large university and a large number of Muslims.

The authorities said they arrested 21 people on the sidelines of the protests.

The epicenter of the main protests is in India’s remote northeastern states, which have long been ethnically tense.

In Assam, four people were killed at the end of last week after the police shot them, while another person was killed when a fire was set in a store where he was sleeping. A sixth person was killed after he was severely beaten during a demonstration.

On Sunday evening in the same state, and after days of riots and clashes with the police, about six thousand people participated in a protest Sunday evening, but without reporting violence.

“They can be found out of their clothes.”

Prime Minister Modi blamed the protests against the opposition Congress Party. He said during a mass gathering on Sunday in Jharkhand state that “the Congress Party and its allies are fanning outrage over the citizenship law, but the northeastern residents reject violence.”

He pointed out that those who provoke violence “can be known from their clothes,” a statement that some interpreted as referring to Muslims.

Modi, who insists he is not anti-Muslim, stressed that the law is “1,000 percent correct” and that Muslims from these countries do not need to protect India.

Rights groups and a Muslim political party challenge the law to the Supreme Court on the grounds that it contravenes the constitution and secular traditions in India.

Ashok Swain, a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, said the scale of protests angered the Modi government, which is suffering from a serious slowdown in economic growth.

“The protest is receiving international attention and is also spreading in different parts of the country. This will definitely increase the pressure on the system when the economy fails,” Swain told AFP.

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