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CAA protests: Indian court refuses to stop implementation of citizenship law

  • Published at 12:15 pm December 18th, 2019
Citizenship Amendment Act protest
Students and supporters hold placards as they protest outside Jamia Millia Islamia university over Indiaís new citizenship law in New Delhi on Wednesday, December 18, 2019 AFP

Thousands of people have protested, saying the law is anti-Muslim and the latest in a series of measures by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government to marginalize the community

India's Supreme Court turned down a plea on Wednesday to stop the implementation of a new citizenship law based on religion that has set off violent protests in the country, but said it would hold hearings next month on the sweeping measure.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) makes it easier for non-Muslims from the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who settled in India prior to 2015 to gain Indian citizenship, reports Reuters.

Thousands of people have protested, saying the law is anti-Muslim and the latest in a series of measures by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government to marginalize the community.

"We want a stay order in the CAA case," said Kapil Sibal, a lawyer for petitioners who challenged the law in court, adding it was in conflict with parts of the Indian constitution guaranteeing equality to all.

Supreme Court Chief Justice SA Bobde refused requests to hold off the implementation of the law, which came into effect last week. The court will however hear petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the law on January 22.

The petitioners argue that religion cannot be the basis of granting citizenship to undocumented migrants. The new law, they say, is against the secular principles of India's constitution, reports Al Jazeera.

India's main opposition Congress party and the Asom Gana Parishad party, an ally of the ruling BJP in Assam state, are among those who have filed the petitions.

Fresh protests broke out across India on Wednesday as authorities banned large gatherings in parts of the capital in an effort to contain nationwide rallies and riots against a citizenship law seen as discriminating against Muslims, reports AFP.

‘India is ours’

In the financial capital Mumbai, hundreds of people under tight security carried placards with the words "India is ours" and chanted "we are all one."

"We just cannot go along with this bill. I can't believe we now have to prove our citizenship after living in India for so many years," Tabeer Rizvi told AFP as the Mumbai crowd burst into a Hindi version of the US civil rights movement anthem "We shall overcome."

"I am not surprised to see people of all religions come out to protest this bill."

Large gatherings banned in East Delhi, 6 arrested

Prohibitory orders were issued in northeast Delhi last morning, banning the gathering of large crowds as a preventive measure, after violent clashes erupted in the Seelampur region of east Delhi on Tuesday afternoon, reports NDTV.

Six people were arrested and three first information reports (FIRs) filed in connection with the violence that broke out on Tuesday during a protest against the controversial new citizenship law.

Counter protests by Delhi University students

A counter-protest by some Delhi University students backing the Citizenship Amendment Act and against other protesters was held in Delhi on Wednesday.

The students also raised "Delhi Police Zindabad" slogans, reports India on Thursday.

Arrests, injuries

Another six people were arrested in West Bengal state for hurling a bomb at policemen on Tuesday that injured seven officers.

In Uttar Pradesh, more than 110 people were arrested over the protests, or for posting on social media, police told AFP.

Hostels at the state's Aligarh Muslim University, where police brutality was alleged by students on Sunday, were emptied after residents were told by the administration to start winter vacations early.

In Gujarat, five people were arrested for drawing a Nazi symbol beside the Modi's ruling BJP party's lotus logo on the wall of the police headquarters in Vadodara city.

Four days after violence rocked Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia during a protest over the Citizenship Amendment Act, new videos showing policemen, with their guns out, raises questions about the police's claims that they did not fire at protesters, reports NDTV.

Two BJP MPs arrested in West Bengal

BJP MPs Nishith Pramanik and Khagen Murmu were arrested on Wednesday, as police stopped two delgations led by the party leaders which were on their way to visit violence-hit areas of Malda and Murshidabad districts, PTI reported.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit the streets for the third consecutive day against the amended citizenship law and NRC.

Section 144 imposed in Bengaluru

Section 144 would be imposed in Bengaluru starting from this morning at 6am for the next three days, reports India on Thursday.

Self-immolation at India Gate

A 25-year-old man set himself ablaze on Wednesday in the national capital and doctors said he has suffered 90% burns.

The self-immolation occurred at the India Gate lawns where protesters have been demanding the rescinding of the Citizenship Amendment Act, reports India on Thursday.

Police, however, said that the act by the youth, identified as Kartik Maher from Odisha, was not connected to the protests.

Normalcy in Assam

Normalcy returned to Guwahati as curfew was relaxed in Dibrugarh for 14 hours since 6am on Wednesday.