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  • People supporting a new citizenship law and those opposing the law, throw stones at each other during a clash in Maujpur area of New Delhi, India, Feb. 23, 2020.

    People supporting a new citizenship law and those opposing the law, throw stones at each other during a clash in Maujpur area of New Delhi, India, Feb. 23, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 February 2020
Opinion

The law has sparked massive protests across the country, as hundreds of thousands of Indians have taken to the streets demanding far-right President Narendra Modi to revoke the legislation. 

Hundreds gathered in India’s capital New Delhi to protest the controversial citizenship law Sunday just a day before United States President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit of the country.

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In the latest eruption of violence people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it, with the two groups pelting each other with stones in the Maujpur area in the northeastern part of the capital. Police were quickly called in used tear gas to disperse protesters. 

On Sunday, a separate protest was also organized in the northern Indian city of Aligarh, where protesters threw stones at the police, state administration official Chandra Bhushan Singh said.

The law has sparked massive protests across the country, as hundreds of thousands of Indians have taken to the streets demanding far-right President Narendra Modi to revoke the legislation. 

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed on Dec. 11 and provides non-Muslim minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who moved to the country before 2015 a pathway to citizenship. 

However, critics and opposition parties say the law, which excludes Muslims, is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on people’s religion and will marginalize India’s 200 million Muslim citizens, especially in the occupied territories of Jammu and Kashmir.

This issue has also raised international criticism regarding human rights violations. 

Just last week, Indian authorities filed a police complaint (FIR) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against social media users, accusing them of defying government orders and misusing social media platforms.

Since New Delhi revoked on Aug. 5 the special status of Kashmir and Jammu by removing a constitutional provision that prevented non-Kashmiris to purchase any property in the Muslim-majority state, Indian authorities imposed a complete ban on the use of any social media platform in the disputed region.

The restrictions have been lifted partially and low-speed 2G internet was restored in January, but the ban on social media continued. 
Kashmiris have been resorting to virtual private networks (VPNs) to access blacklisted sites, particularly Facebook and Twitter. But the open FIR has triggered panic among many users, as a person arrested under the UAPA can be jailed for months without bail.

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