India: Two killed in protests over controversial citizenship bill

India protests citizenship bill
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Hundreds of people in northeast India have participated in protests after the parliament passed a controversial citizenship bill.

People joined a hunger strike across the states of Assam and Tripura in India after the parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), which could grant Indian citizenship to immigrants from three neighboring countries, unless they are Muslim.

The CAB will fast-track the citizenship of religious minorities in India, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The bill sparked controversy as opposition parties argue that it is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on a person’s religion. They added that the law would further marginalize the 200 million Muslims in the country.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led government argued that the bill only aims to protect religious minorities who fled persecution in their home countries.

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To control the situation, the government deployed troops and shut down the internet in the area.

The protests became deadly when two people were killed in Guwahati, the capital of Assam. Dr. Ramen Talukdar, the superintendent of Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, said the two were brought to the hospital with bullet wounds. Another 26 were injured, but seven have been discharged from the hospital.

Mehraj Khan, whose friend was one of the young men killed, narrated: “We were coming back from the actual ground where the big procession took place and suddenly six vehicles … stopped nearby and they threw a stun grenade to disperse the protesters.”

“As soon as they threw the stun grenade, they switched off their car light and … started firing,” Khan mentioned. A relative of the other man said: “We demand justice, are we not Assamese citizens, why shoot own people?”

According to Rajiv Singh of the Tripura police force, approximately 1,800 people have been detained in Tripura since Wednesday.

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