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India citizenship protest: 5,200 detained, 60 shops sealed

FILE PHOTO

Officials on Monday said authorities in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have detained over 5,200 people and sealed more than 60 shops.

This was in response to the violent protests over a controversial new citizenship law.

According to officials, 15 people were killed during protests across the state.

However, local media put the figure beyond 15.

A senior police officer, Shirish Chandra, told Xinhua that “a total of 15 deaths have taken place and we are trying to gather further details.

“We are compiling the data on arrests and number of shops sealed and would share that with media soon’’.

The officials in Muzaffarnagar district said 67 shops were sealed by authorities and they had video footage available that people threw stones on police from terraces of those shops.

Praveen Kumar, a senior police official in charge of law and order in Uttar Pradesh, said the police have detained 5,205 people, out of which 705 were arrested.

“We have arrested 705 people in the state and released 4,500 people on signed bonds.”

Over a dozen districts in the state, including the capital city, Lucknow witnessed protests and clashes over the new citizenship law in India.

Violent protests broke out in the state on Thursday and intensified on Friday.

Prohibitory orders were imposed to stop locals from taking out protest rallies against the citizenship law but failed.

Police resorted to baton charging, besides firing tear smoke shells and bullets to disperse the huge crowds, who were throwing stones.

Authorities have also suspended mobile internet in many districts of the state.

The crackdown by the local authorities comes after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s warning that his government would take revenge on those involved in damaging public assets by auctioning their properties to compensate for the loss.

Meanwhile, the countrywide death toll against the controversial new citizenship law in India stands at 22.

Protests against the law erupted on Dec. 11, the day India’s upper house of parliament passed the law.

Since then, there has been no let-up in the protests.

On Monday, a massive rally against the citizenship law was held in Chennai by the state’s main opposition party.

Former Federal Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, also joined the protest.

The law aims at granting citizenship to irregular immigrants belonging to six religions – Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Parsi and Christianity from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

However, it has kept out Muslim immigrants from applying for citizenship.

Opposition parties and civil society members in India criticise the law as contrary to secular principles enshrined in India’s constitution as it excludes Muslims.

On Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to dispel fears while addressing a rally in Delhi, saying his government does not discriminate on the basis of religion.

Modi also claimed there had been no discussions on the word NRC (National Register of Citizens) during his five-year-old tenure.

He thereby contradicted Home Minister Amit Shah’s repeated promises that the citizenship amendment would be followed by a countrywide NRC update to identify and expel infiltrators. (Xinhua/NAN)

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