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, 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.”