6 Killed in Protests over Contentious Indian Citizenship Bill
Story Code : 832924
Officials said Sunday that four people had died after being shot by police forces during the protests a day earlier, while another died when a shop he was sleeping in was set on fire.
A sixth person lost his life after he was beaten up during the protests, they added.
Tensions have been running high in India’s ethnically-diverse northern region since Wednesday, when the parliament voted ‘Yes’ to the so-called the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). The government later signed the bill into law.
The law allows granting citizenship to millions of migrants, who came into India — legally or illegally — from Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan before 31 December 2014, but not if they are Muslim.
In the wake of the protests, authorities imposed Internet bans and curfews in some of the restive regions. Train services were also suspended in some parts of the east on Sunday after violence in eastern West Bengal state.
A demonstration is also expected later on Sunday in Assam State’s biggest city, Guwahati, which has been the epicenter of the unrest over the past days.
The law has drawn widespread criticism both inside and outside India, which is home to some 200 million Muslims — 11% of the world’s entire Muslim population.
Indian Islamic groups, opposition and rights activists, among others, say the new law is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist agenda, aiming to marginalize the country’s Muslim community.
Modi denies that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party along with the Indian National Congress were pursuing a pro-Hindu agenda.
Critics also argue that the racist law runs contrary to the Constitution and traditions of India.
The United Nations human rights office on Friday voiced concern that India’s citizenship law is “fundamentally discriminatory in nature” by excluding Muslims and called for it to be reviewed.
On Sunday, Home Minister Amit Shah called for calm, claiming that local cultures in northeastern states were not under threat by the new law.