In­dian po­lice bat­tles anti-Modi pro­test­ers over dis­puted law

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

In­dian po­lice ba­ton-charged pro­test­ers on Sun­day to stop them reach­ing Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s car as na­tion­wide protests against a bit­terly dis­puted cit­i­zen­ship law en­tered a sec­ond month.

Tens of thou­sands staged protests through the night in the east­ern city of Kolkata to de­nounce Modi’s week­end visit to the cap­i­tal of West Ben­gal state, whose lo­cal rulers have strongly op­posed the leg­is­la­tion.

Po­lice­men said they were forced to act af­ter pro­test­ers tried

“The gov­ern­ment can’t sup­press our voice. We are not afraid. We are de­ter­mined to fight for our rights,” Samit Nandi, one of the pro­test­ers, told AFP. “We will con­tinue our protests un­til Modi leaves our city.”

West Ben­gal has be­come a po­lit­i­cal bat­tle­field be­tween Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and re­gional pow­er­house Ma­mata Ban­er­jee, whose Trinamool Congress party leads the state.

Ban­er­jee is among state lead­ers na­tion­wide who have said they will not im­ple­ment the Cit­i­zen­ship Amend­ment Act, which excludes Mus­lims from a list of eth­nic mi­nori­ties from Pakistan, Afghanista­n and Bangladesh who are al­lowed to seek In­dian na­tion­al­ity.

Op­po­nents say the gov­ern­ment has cre­ated a re­li­gious test for cit­i­zen­ship in the sec­u­lar coun­try.

Many among In­dia’s 200mn Mus­lims fear the law is a pre­cur­sor to a na­tional reg­is­ter of ci­ti­zens that could leave them state­less in the coun­try of 1.3bn.

“CAA is not about tak­ing away cit­i­zen­ship, it is about giv­ing cit­i­zen­ship,” Modi told sup­port­ers. He has ac­cused po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents of ‘mis­lead­ing’ and ‘in­cit­ing’ peo­ple against his gov­ern­ment.

Wide­spread demon­stra­tions have rocked the Hindu-ma­jor­ity na­tion since the law was ap­proved by par­lia­ment last month.

At least 27 peo­ple have been killed with po­lice ac­cused of us­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ate force in sev­eral states.

Home Min­is­ter Amit Shah, the gov­ern­ment num­ber two, also held a rally in Ja­balpur on Sun­day to build sup­port for the law and sev­eral hun­dred sup­port­ers of the mea­sure marched in New Delhi.

But in a new sign of in­ter­na­tional un­ease over the law, a third Bangladesh min­is­ter can­celled a visit to Delhi in ap­par­ent protest.

Deputy for­eign min­is­ter Shahriar Alam was to have at­tended a di­plo­matic symposium in the In­dian cap­i­tal this week.

For­eign Min­is­ter A K Ab­dul Momen and Home Min­is­ter Asaduz­za­man Khan called off sep­a­rate vis­its in De­cem­ber.

The gov­ern­ment has de­nied any link to the new law, how­ever.

(AFP)

Demon­stra­tors hold black bal­loons and flags to protest against In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, dur­ing a demon­stra­tion in Kolkata on Sun­day

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