Thousands of Indians are ready to celebrate the New Year through protests against a citizenship law, despite attempts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cushion the demonstrations that have been carried out for almost three weeks.
India has been shaken by protests since December 11, when the government approved the Citizens Amendment Act (AAC), facilitating the way for non-Muslim minorities from neighboring Muslim majority nations in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to obtain Indian citizenship.
In combination with the opposition to the proposed National Registry of Citizens (NRC), many Indians fear that the measure will discriminate against the minority Muslim community and end the country's secular constitution.
Protesters plan at least three demonstrations in New Delhi, the capital, including the Shaheen Bagh area, where hundreds of residents have blocked an important road for 18 days.
#Delhi 2020 NEW YEAR'S PARTY
– CAA / NRC protest information. (@NrcProtest) December 30, 2019
Organizers plan recitals and poetry speeches in a protest in front of Jamia Millia University in New Delhi, which was assaulted by police this month.
"The New Year resolution to defend the constitution," read the schedule for another protest planned in New Delhi, now in the grip of its second coldest winter in more than a century.
Social networks were full of invitations to join such protests. "Bring your art supplies, solidarity candles, banners, snacks and blankets," said a message announcing "New Year's Eve at the Gate of India,quot; in New Delhi.
Protesters plan to conduct readings of the constitution, poetry, music and candlelight marches at these meetings that begin primarily at 10 p.m. (1630 GMT) and are expected to end shortly after midnight.
Student and civil society groups, opposition parties and others also plan events on New Year's Day to mark their opposition to the law.
In some meetings, massive promises are planned to defend the constitution and hunger strikes.
#Delhi persons, #New Year party organized by the Sovereign Democratic Socialist Republic of India in #Door of India. See you all there! #IndiaAgainstCAA #NRC_CAA_Protests #IndiaRejectsNRC pic.twitter.com/VZ0vZ8nMtM
– Devika Mittal (@devikasmittal) December 28, 2019
Police said they planned to deploy additional forces in New Delhi on New Year's Eve, with traffic restrictions imposed in some parts of the capital.
"All precautionary measures are in place," said police officer Chinmoy Biswal, who oversees the southeastern part of the city that includes Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Millia University.
"Recently, there have been no incidents. So we hope things are going well," he told Reuters.
& # 39; Protest parties & # 39; throughout india
Similar "protest parties,quot; are being organized at designated sites in Other big Indian cities.
In the southern city of Hyderabad, at least two small groups of protesters have been organizing sudden protests, to circumvent police restrictions to larger meetings.
Typically, half a dozen protesters appear in public places, such as shopping centers and coffee shops, holding signs and encouraging passersby to join, a member of one of the groups, who has conducted 11 protests, told Reuters.
"Every day, we are doing something, somewhere," said the person, who sought anonymity for security reasons, adding that another protest is planned for Tuesday night.
– Sadiya shaikh (@ Sadiyas81098818) December 29, 2019
Poetry recitals are also planned next to the street, comedies and musical performances in the financial capital of Mumbai and in the eastern city of Kolkata.
The three cities have seen major peaceful protests against the CAA and the NRC, which were part of the electoral manifesto of the ruling Hindu Nationalist Party Bharatiya Janata (BJP) of Modi.
But some protests have become violent, particularly in the populous northern state of Uttar Pradesh, and at least 26 people have been killed in clashes with the police since early December.
Initially surprised by the magnitude of the protests, BJP hastened to calm public anger, with Modi stating that there had been no discussions about the NRC, which contradicts the party's colleagues.
The BJP has also launched an effort, backed by a social media campaign, to explain that the CAA is not discriminatory and is necessary to help persecuted non-Muslim minorities in the three neighboring countries.