Millions of people have taken to the streets in India in massive protests to denounce Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies that pose immediate threats to Muslims and their citizenship rights. On Dec. 11, he orchestrated passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act, a discriminatory amendment to India’s existing citizenship laws.
Critics said this law, combined with the creation of a National Register of Citizens proposed on Nov. 20, could be used to disenfranchise, incarcerate or deport large numbers of Muslim citizens. Effectively, they would make millions of poor Muslims in India stateless.
Since the CAA was passed, Indians have defied government bans and restrictions on assembly to demonstrate in many cities, leading to clashes with police that have left 27 protesters dead.
Demonstrations have continued into 2020. More than 200,000 people assembled in the city of Kochi in the state of Kerala on New Year’s Day. An encampment perseveres on a highway outside of Delhi, the country’s capital.
Organizers say over 200,000 protesters marched in the “Million March” in Hyderabad, the country’s “technology hub,” on Jan. 4. Other protests took place that day in southern cities in Karnataka, including Bengaluru, the state’s capital.
Women have helped organize the protests since they began, and they have been on the front lines. Braving the cold, hundreds of Muslim women of all ages have maintained an outdoor occupation in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh neighbourhood since Dec. 15.