Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in at least 15 cities across the country, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata on Thursday in a show of nationwide public anger against the law considered by many to be unconstitutional and discriminatory against Muslims.
At least two people died in the protests, which saw violent pitched battles between police and protesters in several cities, including Ahmedabad, Mangaluru, and Lucknow. Police fired tear gas, water cannons and used batons against protesters who pelted stones, vandalized and set fire to buildings and buses. Thousands of people were arrested.
…At the center of the unrest is the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was passed into law last week. The law that promises to fast-track citizenship for non-Muslim religious minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who arrived before 2015.
The government, ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the law will provide safe haven for religious minorities who fled persecution in their home countries. Critics say it undermines the country’s secular constitution as it bases citizenship on a person’s religion and would further marginalize India’s 200-million strong Muslim community.