India: Thousands Hit Streets Defying Curfew Against Citizenship Bill

Thousands of troops were moved into the Indian state of Assam, after violent protests broke out as and after the Indian parliament passed a bill that would make it easier for non-Muslims to enter into India and seek citizenship from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The approval of the bill resulted in violent protests and clash between forces and demonstrators from most of the northeastern states of India.

The state of Assam where a movement against illegal immigrants from its neighbouring Bangladesh has simmered for decades saw protesters defying curfew, torching cars and tyres and chanting anti-Modi slogans.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the passage of the controversial ‘anti-Muslim’ Citizenship Amendment Bill.

There was a massive redeployment of troops from troubled Kashmir to Assam’s capital Guwahati, although protesters were back on the streets.

Mobile internet has been suspended in 10 districts in Assam for 24 hours until 7 pm Thursday, the government said social media platforms could potentially be used to “inflame” the situation.

The turmoil in Assam comes just days ahead of an annual summit that Modi plans to host for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe there as part of his campaign to move high-profile diplomatic events outside Delhi.

Protesters attacked the homes of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and other members of the ruling Modi government, blaming them for playing politics by opening up the state for more outsiders.

Opposition parties call the bill unconstitutional, as it goes against the ideas of India’s founding fathers.

“During the partition and formation of India, her forefathers wanted India to raise above religion. Her constitution was written in a way where religious minorities had equal say and rights just as the majority Hindu clan – a nation without any discrimination. However, this bill leaves behind her second largest religious community – the Muslims – making them less content for a citizenship.”

The government has said the new law will be followed by a citizenship register that will force Muslims to prove their ‘Indian Citizenship,’ if not be potentially rendered stateless.

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