Protests escalate against India’s new citizenship act

Muslims protest against India’s new citizenship law after Friday prayers at Delhi’s Jama Masjid. (AFP)
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Updated 21 December 2019

Protests escalate against India’s new citizenship act

  • Nine people reported killed so far in week of demonstrations nationwide

NEW DELHI: Protests in India against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) intensified and spread further on Friday.

The CAA gives citizenship to persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan but excludes Muslims.

Several areas in Uttar Pradesh witnessed violent protests, with reports of at least six deaths. In the city of Meerut in the northern Indian state, police killed two people, said resident Shariq Hussain.

“The situation is volatile. The government has angered the people with its discriminatory law,” Hussain told Arab News.

On Thursday, four people in the state capital Lucknow were killed by police fire. In many areas, internet and communication networks are down.

The capital New Delhi also witnessed large-scale demonstrations in many places. The biggest was at the historic Jama Mosque immediately after Friday prayers.

So far, nine people have been reported killed in a week of protests across India. The country’s financial capital Mumbai witnessed one of the biggest demonstrations against the CAA on Thursday, involving thousands of people from different faiths.


Despite the nationwide protests, J.P. Nadda, president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, told reporters that the CAA will be implemented. He said India was marching ahead under Modi and will continue to do so.

Despite the nationwide protests, the president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) told reporters on Thursday: “India is marching ahead under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will continue to do so.” The CAA “will be implemented,” J.P. Nadda added.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday blamed opposition parties for the violence, saying they have “pushed the entire country to fire.”

He added: “All properties of those involved in damaging public assets will be seized and auctioned to compensate for the losses.”

Sonia Ghandi, president of the opposition Congress Party, said in a video message on Friday: “The BJP government has chosen to use brute force to suppress dissent. This is unacceptable in a democracy.”

She added that “in a democracy, people have the right to raise their voice,” and that the CAA is “discriminatory.”

Lucknow-based political analyst Ram Dutt Tripathi told Arab News: “Dissent and protest are essential elements of democracy. A blanket ban on protests and shutting down internet services are undemocratic.” He said: “People fear that the CAA … may endanger the secular nature of the constitution.”

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

Updated 12 July 2020

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

  • Exercise being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory

HONG KONG: Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang last week that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law, because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.
Organizers have dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order Internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, a co-organizer of the primary elections. The computer system was suspected of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the pro-Beijing camp.
To hold the primary elections, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd funding. They pledged to veto the government’s budget if they clinch a majority in the legislature. Under the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong is governed, city leader Carrie Lam must resign if an important bill such as the budget is vetoed twice.
On Saturday alone, nearly 230,000 people voted at polling booths set up across the city, exceeding organizers’ estimates of a 170,000 turnout over the weekend.