Tens of thousands march in southern India to protest citizenship law

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Demonstrators hold placards and flags as they attend a protest rally against a new citizenship law, in Hyderabad, India, January 4, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Placards lie next to the Indian Muslims offering prayers during a protest against a new citizenship law that opponents say threatens India's secular identity in Hyderabad, India, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (AP)
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Indians hold placards as they march during a protest against a new citizenship law that opponents say threatens India's secular identity in Hyderabad, India, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (AP)
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An Indian girl holds a placard and national flags as she participates in a protest against a new citizenship law that opponents say threatens India's secular identity in Hyderabad, India, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (AP)
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A woman takes photographs of a painting made by an artist during an event organized to protest against a new citizenship law that opponents say threatens India's secular identity in Mumbai, India, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 04 January 2020

Tens of thousands march in southern India to protest citizenship law

  • The protest, dubbed the ‘Million March’, was organized by an umbrella group of Muslim and civil society organizations
  • More than 40 percent of Hyderabad’s estimated population of nearly 7 million are Muslims

HYDERABAD: Over one hundred thousand protesters, many carrying the Indian tricolor flag, took part in a peaceful march in the southern city of Hyderabad on Saturday, chanting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new citizenship law.
The protest, dubbed the ‘Million March’, was organized by an umbrella group of Muslim and civil society organizations. More than 40 percent of Hyderabad’s estimated population of nearly 7 million are Muslims.
Demonstrators were still pouring into the protest site late on Saturday afternoon, according to a Reuters witness, despite police saying no march would be allowed and that permission had only been granted for a 1,000-person gathering.
The Indian government has faced weeks of acrimonious and, at times, violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was passed by Modi’s government in December.
The Hyderabad protesters held placards with slogans including “Withdraw CAA immediately,” and “India’s only religion in Secularism.”
The Reuters witness said the protest remained peaceful, and estimated that more than one hundred thousand people were in attendance.
The new law eases the path for non-Muslim minorities from the neighboring Muslim-majority nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to gain Indian citizenship. But, if combined with a proposed national register of citizens, critics of the CAA fear it will discriminate against minority Muslims in India and chip away at India’s secular constitution.
Modi’s government maintains the new law is necessary to help minorities facing persecution in Muslim-majority nations, and it has called the pan-India protests politically motivated.
At least 25 people have been killed in protest-related clashes with police since early December.
Elsewhere, protests against the CAA also went ahead in several other Indian cities on Saturday with hundreds turning out for protests in cities in the southern state of Karnataka.
Hundreds of men and women gathered at a rally in the tech hub of Bengaluru, with some accusing Modi’s government of trying to divide India along communal lines, to distract from a sharp domestic economic slowdown and job losses.


Pakistan PM Khan slams ‘oppressor’ India on Kashmir anniversary

Updated 12 min 27 sec ago

Pakistan PM Khan slams ‘oppressor’ India on Kashmir anniversary

  • Solidarity marches were held in all major Pakistani cities to mark the anniversary of New Delhi stripping Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status
  • Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory, has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full and have fought wars over it

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan branded India an “oppressor and aggressor” on Wednesday, a year after New Delhi imposed direct rule on Indian-administered Kashmir.
Solidarity marches were held in all major Pakistani cities to mark the anniversary of New Delhi stripping Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status, a move that outraged Islamabad.
Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory, has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full and have fought wars over it.
“India stands exposed before the world, yet again, as an oppressor and aggressor,” Khan said in a statement.
“Its so-called secular and democratic credentials stand fully discredited,” he added, calling India’s action last year a “crime against humanity.”
Khan led a march through Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, before addressing the region’s legislative assembly.
Across the city, more than 2,000 people turned out at a series of anti-India protests.
“We ask the world to give Kashmiris their right of self-determination, otherwise we will cross the Line of Control and help our brothers on the other side with arms,,” Arslan Ahmad, a refugee who fled Indian-administered Kashmir, told AFP.
“Half of my family is under siege in Indian-occupied Kashmir, my mother is dying to meet her sister, this dispute has left our generations torn apart,” 31-year old Usman Mir added.
Police were enforcing tight restrictions in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday, where religious and political groups had called on residents to observe a “black day.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government had promised the move would bring peace and prosperity to Indian Kashmir after three decades of violence sparked by an anti-India uprising.
Pakistan, however, has alleged it is a violation of the rights of Kashmiri people.
Khan accused India of trying to turn Kashmir’s Muslim majority into a minority by ending restrictions on outsiders buying up property “in blatant violation of... UN Security Council Resolutions and international laws.”
The change in rules has sparked fears that the Modi government is pursuing an Israel-style “settler” project.
A referendum in Kashmir mandated by a UN resolution in 1948 has never taken place.
“India has learned from Israel how to change the demography (of Kashmir),” President Arif Alvi told a rally in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, which observed a one-minute silence.
Hundreds of billboards and banners displayed graphic images purportedly of human rights violations by Indian authorities in Kashmir.
On Tuesday, Pakistan released a new official map showing all of Kashmir as its territory.
The Pakistan military, meanwhile, said Indian troops had fired a shell across the de-facto border, killing a young woman and wounding six other people.
Such exchanges are common along the Kashmir demarcation line, with shells blasted in both directions.