Twenty seven people have died since protests by Muslims and non-Muslims alike engulfed India after the country’s parliament passed the citizenship act, which is seen as discriminatory toward Muslims, about two weeks ago. Under the law, migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan will be allowed to claim Indian citizenship — but not if they are Muslims.
Around 5,000 people took part in a rally against the law in the financial capital, Mumbai, on Friday while hundreds of armed policemen were patrolling the city.
First-time protester Amanda Castellino said she had taken part in the demonstrations “to safeguard India’s secular ethos.”
“At this moment, either we can stay silent and mute for the rest of our lives or speak up,” the 27-year-old told AFP.
A rival pro-government demonstration was also held in the city, with the demonstrators carrying flags and posters in support of the law.
In Delhi, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the grand mosque in the capital’s old quarter after Friday prayers, chanting slogans against the government and vowing to keep up the pressure until the law was scrapped.
Riot police and paramilitary troops had set up steel barricades on roads leading to the mosque.
India tightens security for protests after Friday prayersIndian authorities have stepped up security in major cities and suspended mobile data services to maintain order ahead of protests planned for Friday against a new citizenship law.
Arrests were also reported in the capital.
Heavy-handed police tactics have fueled anger, with many accusing authorities of arbitrary force against the protesters.
More than 1,000 people were arrested in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where 20 percent of the population are Muslims, and over 5,000 others were taken into preventive custody, some of them as young as 16, according to the media.