Violent protests against controversial citizenship law leave 18 dead

The death toll in protests against the Citizenship law in India has risen to 18.

10 deaths were recorded in Uttar Pradesh alone, India’s most populous state on Friday. The 10th victim was a child who died in the city of Varanasi after being struck with a stone.

Three people were killed in protests in the cities of Mangalore and Lucknow on Thursday. Last week, five people died in north-eastern Assam state when protests there first erupted.

The controversial citizenship law hands over nationality to several religious minorities except Muslims from neighbouring Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.

Massive demonstrations were reported across India in response to the new law, and despite a ban on public gatherings in various regions now in place.

The colonial-era restriction — Section 144 — was imposed across Uttar Pradesh for the next 15 days. It forbids gathering of four or more people.

Internet services were also suspended in many areas, including certain districts of capital New Delhi.

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