Three people have died in India and hundreds have been detained amid demonstrations against a controversial new citizenship law after tens of thousands people took to the streets defying a ban on public gatherings.
Public anger has grown over a controversial new citizenship law considered that “discriminates” Muslims.
Protest marches and rallies are planned in 15 major cities such as the capital New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai.
Section 144, a colonial-era law that prevented gatherings of four or more people in a number of areas in New Delhi in a bid to quell unrest.
However, protesters defined the ban and assembled in three major locations Red Fort and Jantar Mantar.
The founder of Swaraj Abhiyaan, Yogendra Yadav and many other prominent local politicians were detained by police around the Red Fort area of the city.
Telecoms companies were ordered to suspend its services in several parts of New Delhi. Several gates of Delhi’s metro stations were shut.
Heavy traffic in New Delhi has prompted airlines Air India and Indigo to offer a full refund for all outbound domestic and international flights on Thursday.
Meanwhile, many schools in the cities of New Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida will be shut tomorrow.
Friend just sent this from Jantar Mantar. Remember this is the third protest in Delhi, made by people many of whom were already detained once and dropped in some remote location. Without metros. Look at this crowd pic.twitter.com/JyzPY2ys9W
— Anupam Guha (@Anupam_Guha) December 19, 2019
In India’s biggest and most populous state Uttar Pradesh, demonstrators defied restrictions in the capital Lucknow. Police said protesters threw stones in the Hasanganj area of the city.
At least 12 vehicles, including two buses, two-wheelers and vans were burned down amid violence. Police responded with tear gas, lathicharge and firing.
Yogi Adityanath, its chief minister, condemned violence on Thursday, accusing “unconstitutional elements” of “creating a state of fear”. Adityanath added that perpetrators must pay for the damage caused.
A man also died in the city of Lucknow, where violent clashes between demonstrators and police erupted.
— Ayaj Khan (@AyajKha97990870) December 19, 2019
Prohibitory orders were imposed in parts of Karnataka till the midnight of December 21 in the backdrop of planned protests. However, here as well thousands of protesters assembled at the city’s Town Hall defying the prohibitory orders. Historian, sociologist, writer and columnist Ramachandra Guha was among the 100’s of protesters who were detained.
Two people died in the city of Mangalore after officers opened fire on demonstrators allegedly trying to set fire to a police station.
— Rupsy Khurana (@Rupsykhurana) December 19, 2019
Hundreds, including college students, political and social activists, senior citizens and others assembled at the historic August Kranti Maidan in south Mumbai for the biggest protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Mumbai Police have deployed a huge posse of armed personnel, riot police in full gear and monitoring the entire congested neighbourhood with CCTVs and drone cameras to ward of any untoward incidents.
Several film personalities attended the August Kranti Maidan agitation.
The police have imposed severe traffic restrictions and blocked roads to and around the grounds to regulate the huge crowds expected to turn up for the protests.
Peaceful protests have been held in IIT-Bombay, TISS, University of Mumbai, Pune University, FTII Pune, Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya in Wardha, Thane, Palghar, Nashik, Aurangabad, Beed, and other districts.
Candle-light and ‘mashaal’ (torches) processions have also been held by university students in Mumbai and Pune and silent marches have been taken out also in support of the police action on students in Delhi’s Jamia Milia Islamia and Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh Muslim University.
People in Chennai had sought permission to protest near Valluvarkottam. However, permission was denied at the last moment. Yet, hundreds of people turned up and are expressing their dissatisfaction against the government.
Several students from various colleges including IIT Chennai, New College, Mohammed Sathak College held demonstrations against the CAA.
Tamil actor Siddharth, who has been quite active on Twitter, also arrived at Valluvarkottam to join the protest.
Scores of protesters including students were taken into preventive custody in different parts of Hyderabad.
The protests were planned in different parts of the city including near the Charminar at the Old City in Hyderabad.
The city has been witnessing sporadic protests by various organisations including students and political parties against the CAA for the past few days.
Singing the National Anthem at People's Plaza Hyderabad … The police gave no permission to protest but people cannot be stopped from holding the national flag and singing the national anthem, right? pic.twitter.com/Yijn9Dz9A3
— Uma Sudhir (@umasudhir) December 19, 2019
A large number of students gathered in the heart of the city of Kolkata, while political parties including organised protests in multiple districts.
The West Bengal Chief Minister and ruling Trinamool Congress chief led massive marches in Kolkata and neighbouring Howrah. Hundreds of workers arrived at the spot.
Seventeen Left parties called a mega rally from Ramlila Maidan to Park Circus in south Kolkata.
Over the past few days several protests were organised.
Wave of Red Flags at #Kolkata as Left Parties unitedly organised massive protest rally against #CitizenshipAmendmentAct today. #CAA that links citizenship with religious affiliation of an individual, the very antithesis of secularism. Resistance is on & will only intensify. pic.twitter.com/9cVgB2iAMS
— CPI(M) WEST BENGAL (@CPIM_WESTBENGAL) December 19, 2019
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in other parts of India as well; Patna, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad to name a few.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, which was signed into law last week promises to fast-track Indian citizenship for religious minorities from three neighboring countries who arrived before 2015, except Muslims.
In the country’s northeast, many indigenous groups fear that giving citizenship to large numbers of immigrants would change the unique ethnic make-up of the region and their way of life.