Large demonstrations are expected throughout India on Thursday as the tumultuous and angry reaction develops against a citizenship law seen as discriminatory against the country's 200 million Muslims.
The move by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to push for the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) through parliament last week has sparked protests across the country that have often become violent, with six people killed and students attacked .
The law gives migrants fleeing the persecution of neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh an easier path to citizenship, except that Muslims: 14 percent of the population of India – They are excluded.
Critics say it is further proof that Modi, emboldened by a resounding electoral victory this year, is moving quickly to reshape India as a Hindu nation and weaken its secular foundations.
The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday rejected a statement to stop the implementation of the law, but said it would hold hearings next month on the radical measure.
More demonstrations amid prohibitive orders
During the last week of riots, hundreds of people were arrested, authorities cut off the Internet in some areas of critical points and banned large meetings in others.
Police threw tear gas against the crowd and was accused of beating protesters, including women and students, which fueled the anger.
Just In | Section 144 applies to all #UttarPradesh on December 19.
– The Hindu (@the_hindu) December 18, 2019
The protest organizers have marked plans for large demonstrations on Thursday in major cities in India, including the capital of New Delhi.
Police rejected a march permit for one of the two main demonstrations planned in New Delhi, authorities said. The organizers said they planned to go anyway.
With more likely demonstrations, authorities in the southern state of Karnataka have moved to ban large public gatherings in at least three major cities, a police officer said.
The restrictions will take effect on Thursday morning, including in the state capital, Bengaluru, where the offices of dozens of multinational companies are located, including Flipkart, Uber, Infosys and Wipro of Walmart Inc.
Similar restrictions were also imposed in Lucknow, capital of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
Ban on meetings in the capital
In New Delhi, authorities also imposed a ban on meetings of more than four people in some of its Muslim-dominated districts on Wednesday.
Police shot into the air in a part of the Muslim-dominated capital to repel thousands of protesters throwing stones and glass bottles, demanding that the law be withdrawn.
In a protest in front of Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, which was assaulted by police on Sunday night, leaving 200 students injured, Fasiur Rehman, 70, accused the Modi administration of attacking Muslims .
"This government wants to make us second-class citizens," he said, as several hundred protesters around him raised slogans, raised banners and waved the Indian flag.
The crowd, mostly young, challenged the ban on large meetings.
"We are really very angry with the BJP government … they have taken racism to the extreme," Taiba Hadis, 18, told the AFP news agency at the rally.
"They are questioning our existence, and it is time for us to talk."
Protests throughout India
In the financial capital of Mumbai, hundreds of people demonstrated on Wednesday carrying banners with the words: "India is ours,quot; and singing "We are all one."
"We simply cannot accept this law. I cannot believe that we now have to prove our citizenship after living in India for so many years," Tabeer Rizvi told AFP when the Mumbai crowd broke into a Hindi version of the civil rights of states. United. movement anthem: "We will win."
"I am not surprised to see people of all religions come out to protest against this bill."
India: families in limbo amid a legal challenge to citizenship law
Demonstrations were also held in other states, such as Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Telangana on Wednesday.
In the northeastern state of Assam, which has seen some of the most violent protests against the CAA, thousands of people took to the streets of several cities on Wednesday.
"We will continue our agitation until we get a favorable response from the Supreme Court," said Samujjal Bhattacharya of the All Assam Student Union.
In West Bengal state, where some protests also turned violent, four people were injured in clashes in the Uttar Dinajpur district after a procession against the CAA, local official Arvind Meena said.
& # 39; Excessive force & # 39;
The spokesman for the UN secretary general, Stephane Dujarric, said on Tuesday that the world agency was "concerned about violence and the alleged use of excessive force by the security forces we have seen have taken place."
The United States Department of State urged New Delhi to "protect the rights of its religious minorities in accordance with the constitution and democratic values of India."
At a press conference with his Indian counterpart on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is deeply concerned about protecting religious rights everywhere, but gave a silent response on the issue.
"We honor Indian democracy, as they have a strong debate within India on the issue," he said.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar repeated the government line that it was a measure designed to address the needs of persecuted religious minorities.