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News > India

India: Hundreds of Women Camp Against the Citizenship Law

  • Woman shout slogans during a protest rally against a new citizenship law, in Guwahati, India, Dec. 28, 2019.

    Woman shout slogans during a protest rally against a new citizenship law, in Guwahati, India, Dec. 28, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 December 2019
Opinion

So far, police brutality has resulted in the deaths of at least 25 people who were protesting against the anti-Muslim citizenship law.

Hundreds of women Friday night remained protesting in a camp built in the Shaheen Bagh neighborhood in New Delhi where Muslim immigrants have been gathering for 13 consecutive days to protest against a legal amendment that denies them citizenship.

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"This is the first time in my life that I participate in a protest," said 48-year-old woman Romanian Khan, who remains in the camp in the company of her grandchildren.

The Muslim community residing in India is frightened by the Citizenship Law and the eventual census that will be carried out to identify illegal immigrants.

For two weeks, India has been the scene for massive protests that have been harshly repressed by the police, which has left at least 25 people dead, 19 of whom were killed in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which contains 14 percent of the population of India.

On Dec. 11, the Parliament passed an amendment to the Citizenship Law that seeks to regularize undocumented immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parish and Christian religions and carrying more than five years living in India.

To differentiate between who are "the legitimate inhabitants" and who are "the illegals", the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi intends to conduct a National Registry of Citizens, which has generated fear among immigrants.

"Besides being arbitrary and discriminatory, the proposal goes against the values of this country," said Seema Misra, a lawyer who professes the Hindu religion and is defending hundreds of detainees.

"The conditions of the detainees were bad. The police almost did not allow us to enter to give legal advice to the detainees," she added.

The Shaheen Bagh protests began on Dec. 16, a day after the police raided the predominantly Muslim university Jamia Millia Islamia during the night, where allegedly "violent protesters" were taking refuge. Those who were violent, however, were the policemen who evicted even the library.

"The government wants to divide us. Why has Jamia's campus been attacked? Because the university has a Muslim name," said Professor Santosh Kumar Yadav, who also participates in the camp.

"We have many videos showing how the police are generating violence. They want to impose themselves on us and they are acting violently. We just try to stop them," he explained.

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