‘Reign of terror’ in northern India follows citizenship law

Indian women hold placards and shout slogans during a protest against a new citizenship law that opponents say threatens India's secular identity in Bangalore, India, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019. (AP)
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Updated 27 December 2019

‘Reign of terror’ in northern India follows citizenship law

  • Critics say BJP is openly at war with Muslims as Modi praises police action

NEW DELHI: Idul Hasan has been crying since he saw the body of his 20-year-old son Asif, unable to believe that life has become so tragic. 

“I was called by the ambulance driver, he told me to see my son in the hospital’s post-mortem section,” a sobbing Hasan told Arab News. “What was his crime?”

Asif, a rickshaw driver in the Meerut district of northern Uttar Pradesh state, was killed after Friday prayers when police fired at people protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). 

The act fast-tracks citizenship for persecuted Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who arrived in India before the end of 2014 from Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. But critics say the law is discriminatory and goes against the secular spirit of India’s constitution. 

Six people have been killed by police fire in Meerut and a fact-finding team comprising civil society activists accuses authorities of targeting Muslims. One activist has said there is a “reign of terror” in Uttar Pradesh.

“The UP authorities are brazenly targeting Muslims ... throwing democratic norms, constitutional rights and the due process of law to the wind,” the National Action Against Citizenship Amendment team said.

FASTFACT

There have been protests across India but most of the killings and violence has occurred in places governed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party such as Uttar Pradesh.

The citizenship law follows decisions by New Delhi that disproportionately affect the country’s Muslim population including revoking the special status of the Muslim-majority state of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, the screening of Muslims from the National Register of Citizens in Assam state, and plans to build a Hindu temple at the site of centuries-old Babri Mosque.

There have been protests across India but most of the killings and violence has occurred in places governed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) such as Uttar Pradesh.

Media and police reports said there had been 18 deaths from police fire in the state, and that hundreds of people have been detained.

“There is a reign of terror and the minority is living in deep fear,” political activist Yogendra Yadav told Arab News after a visit to Meerut. 

Arab News contacted the director-general of Uttar Pradesh police, O.P. Singh, but he refused to comment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has praised the role of state police in enforcing law and order, telling an audience in Lucknow that people who committed violent acts and damaged public property should sit peacefully at home and ponder if it was the right path.

Activists who visited the state told Arab News that the BJP was openly at war with Muslims, and that people were so scared they were not going to the police station to file reports about missing relatives.


Ukraine to press for plane crash black boxes as Iran minister visits

Updated 20 January 2020

Ukraine to press for plane crash black boxes as Iran minister visits

  • Ukraine’s foreign minister said returning the black boxes would show that Iran wanted an unbiased investigation of the crash
  • The plane disaster has heightened international pressure on Iran

KIEV: Ukraine will press Iran to hand over the black boxes from the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane at a meeting with a visiting Iranian delegation on Monday, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told reporters.
Ukraine would convey the message to visiting Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami, that returning the black boxes would show that Iran wanted an unbiased investigation of the crash, Prystaiko said.
“His main task is to apologize and acknowledge what happened. We hope that we can go a little further than just political discussions and discuss practical problems. Among them in particular is the return of the black boxes,” Prystaiko said.
Iran had said on Sunday it was trying to analyze the black boxes from the airliner its military shot down this month, denying an earlier report it would hand them to Ukraine. All 176 aboard the flight died.
“At first they stated that they were handing them over, then the same person stated that they were not handing them over. This created some misunderstanding in Ukraine and we were starting to be asked: are they being handed over or not?“
Many of those killed had were Iranians with dual citizenship, but Iran does not recognize dual nationality and on Monday said it would treat the victims as Iranian nationals.
Canada, which had 57 citizens on the flight, said there were still no firm plans for downloading the recorders. Ottawa and other capitals have called for the black boxes to be sent abroad.
The Jan. 8 plane disaster has heightened international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long-running dispute with the United States over its nuclear program and its influence in the region that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.
The Iranian military has said it downed Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 in error in the aftermath of tit-for-tat strikes by the United States and Iran. But authorities delayed admitting this, prompting days of protests on Iran’s streets.
Ukraine held a ceremony at Kiev’s Boryspil airport on Sunday as the bodies of 11 citizens, including nine crew, were returned to Ukraine.