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Modi summons ministers to discuss security as citizenship law protests grow

At least 14 people have been killed in violent clashes between the police and protesters since parliament last week passed a contentious citizenship law.

Nigam Prusty & Shilpa Jamkhandikar | Reuters  |  New Delhi 

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Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supporters burn tyres as they block a road in Patna on Saturday. Train services were hit during the Bihar bandh called by the RJD while West Bengal, Assam and Meghalaya were peaceful photo: PTI

Prime Minister met his council of ministers on Saturday to discuss security measures to end violent protests against the citizenship law, government sources said.

At least 14 people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters since Parliament passed the law on December 11, with critics saying it discriminates against Muslims and undermines the country’s secular Constitution.

Demonstrations continued on Saturday despite curfews and regulations to shut down protests.

ALSO READ: Citizenship law protests LIVE: Modi summons ministers; UP death toll rises

Uttar Pradesh has seen the worst violence with nine people killed so far and several more in critical conditions in hospital. Rights activists in Uttar Pradesh 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.

More demonstrations are planned in several parts of the country, including in the northeastern state of Assam, where residents are angry that the law makes it easier for non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who settled in India prior to 2015 to obtain Indian citizenship.

“Thousands of women are participating in the protest across Assam. The movement against the act is gaining momentum by the day,” Sammujal Bhattacharya, a leader of the All Assam Students’ Union told Reuters.

In other parts of India, anger with the law stems from it being seen as discriminating against Muslims, and as it makes religion a criterion for citizenship in a country that has taken pride in its secular constitution.

“This piece of legislation strikes at the heart of the Constitution, seeking to make India another country altogether,” prominent historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in The Telegraph.

“It is thus that so many people from so many different walks of life have raised their voices against it.” Guha was released from police custody after being detained for protesting against the law in the southern city of Bengaluru.

ALSO READ: A bureaucratic nightmare awaits us

Political opposition against the law has swelled with state leaders from regional parties vowing to prevent its implementation in their states.

The government has said there is no chance the law will be repealed.

1,500 protesters held

More than 1,500 protesters have been arrested across the country in the past 10 days, official said on Saturday. Additionally, some 4,000 people have been detained and then released, the officials said.

Those arrested and detained had been resorting to violence during the protests, two senior Central government officials said.

Mangaluru curfew relaxed


Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Saturday said an inquiry will be conducted into the violence that rocked this coastal city during the anti-CAA protests, leaving two dead in police firing, as he announced relaxation in the curfew.

Chandra Shekhar Aazad sent to 14-day judicial custody

A Delhi court on Saturday sent Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad, who was arrested in connection with the violence in Old Delhi's Daryaganj area, to 14 days’ judicial custody.

Aazad, who was arrested earlier in the day, sought bail from the court on the grounds that there is no evidence that he instigated the Jama Masjid crowd to go to Delhi Gate where the protesters had turned violent.

BJP to launch info campaign

The BJP on Saturday announced a mass contact programme over the amended citizenship law as the party geared up to mobilise support for the contentious legislation amid widespread protests against it.


First Published: Sat, December 21 2019. 10:49 IST