Six people died and dozens were injured when Indian police clashed with thousands of protesters who again took to the streets in several parts of the country to oppose a new law they say discriminates against Muslims.
There were standoffs on Friday at police barricades in half a dozen towns in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, which has long been a tinderbox of communal tensions between majority Hindus and minority Muslims.
At least six people died and 32 were injured in clashes between police and stone-throwing protesters, Uttar Pradesh police chief OP Singh said, making Friday the single deadliest day of the protests so far.
Singh said that none of the deaths were due to police shooting, and 144 people were arrested. It brings the total number of deaths during the nationwide demonstrations, now in their second week, to 13.
The backlash against the law pushed through parliament by the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 11 December marks the strongest show of dissent since he was first elected in 2014.
The legislation makes it easier for people from non-Muslim minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who settled in India prior to 2015 to obtain Indian citizenship. Critics say the exclusion of Muslims is discriminatory and that the award of citizenship based on religion undermines the constitution.
In New Delhi’s Daryaganj area, a commercial thoroughfare in the capital with many banks, shops and cafes, police fired a water cannon to disperse crowds of some 6,000 protesters, an official said.
Police detained 34 people in the area, said Adil Amaan, a lawyer who tried unsuccessfully to negotiate their release.
The protests in New Delhi had grown throughout the day, initially starting at the historic Jama Masjid mosque, where chants of “Remove Modi” filled the air after Friday prayers that drew thousands of worshippers.
Protesters marched towards the centre of the capital where authorities had shut some train stations and suspended the internet in some areas to stop people from gathering.
Police and paramilitary were deployed outside Jama Masjid, where several people carried India’s flag and copies of the constitution, which states that India is a secular republic.
“We will fight till this law is rolled back. We will not back down,” said Shamim Qureishi, 42, outside the mosque.
In north-eastern Delhi, tens of thousands gathered in three different places to protest against the law, despite curbs on such assemblies, but later dispersed peacefully, police said.
Crowds pelted stones at police in Ferozabad, Muzzafarnagar and Ghaziabad among other cities in Uttar Pradesh and police fired tear gas in the city of Kanpur to scatter protesters.
Singh, the state police chief, said that violence had been reported in 13 districts.
Authorities said they shut the internet in parts of Uttar Pradesh state to prevent publication of inflammatory material. News channel NDTV broadcast images of a torched police van and officers chasing protesters throwing stones and wielding sticks.
Muslims make up 14% of India’s population.
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.