Thousands defy curfew in Indian protests over citizenship bill

  • article
New Delhi, Dec. 12 (BNA): Thousands of people defied a curfew in India's north-eastern Assam state to take part in protests against legislation that would grant citizenship to non-Muslims from neighboring countries.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which proposes to grant sanctuary to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian minorities fleeing religious persecution in Muslim-majority countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, was cleared by the parliament on Wednesday, Deutsche press agency (dpa) reported.
Protesters gathered in various areas in Guwahati, Assam’s largest city, and burned tires, threw stones and shouted slogans before they were dispersed by the police.
Critics of the bill have said it goes against values upheld by India's secular constitution by making religion a basis for citizenship. They also say it discriminates against Muslims.
Protesters in the north-east feel the legislation would lead to an influx of illegal immigrants and hurt indigenous communities. There are already a large number of Bangladeshi immigrants living in the region.
Besides Guwahati, clashes were also reported in cities such as Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Tinsukia and over 25 people were injured when the protests flared on Wednesday, according to broadcaster NDTV.
Protests have also been reported in other north-eastern states including Assam’s neighboring Tripura state.
Transport services to the region were impacted as train services were suspended and several airlines cancelled flights.
Mobile internet services were also suspended across several districts to try to stem the violence.