Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended his government’s new citizenship law, despite the major ongoing protests against it.
“We passed this bill to help the persecuted,” he said.
Modi defended the legislation at a rally in the capital at a rally to inaugurate the campaign for state elections there.
He accused opposition political parties of “telling lies and spreading misinformation” about the bill and insisted that India’s Muslims “don’t need to worry” about the bill.
However, protests have continued despite his assurance.
More than 20 people have died in ten days of clashes sparked by the bill, which critics see as anti-Muslim.
Several thousand people have also been detained and internet services have been suspended as the authorities battle to restore order.
The bill offers nationality to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries.
Critics fear the new law undermines India’s secular constitution.
It is also controversial because it follows a government plan to publish a nationwide register of citizens, namely National Register of Citizens (NRC) and this bill is aimed to protect non-Muslims who are excluded from the register and face the threat of deportation or internment.
Many Muslim citizens fear that they could be made stateless if they don’t have the necessary documents.