Image: Surender Kumar/Student Union of Jamia Milia University
India: Massive protests against citizenship law
December 16, 2019
Thousands of students have gathered across India to protest alleged police brutality and a new bill offering citizenship to non-Muslims in nearby countries. Activists say the law attacks India's secular foundations.
Students protested across several campuses, including Mumbai's Indian Institute of Technology and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, over the weekend and into Monday. Demonstrations were also planned at Bombay University and in the southern city of Bangalore later in the day.
"The country is burning, the government has made a mockery of the constitution," said D. Raja, a general secretary of the Communist Party of India.
Under the new bill, non-Muslim migrants from three Muslim-majority countries who settled in India before 2015 are eligible for citizenship if they are facing religious persecution.
The religious minorities include Hindus and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The proposed legislation notably denies eligibility for Muslims.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has argued that Muslims from those three countries do not need protection in India, saying the bill is "1,000 percent correct." But activists and opposition lawmakers have criticized it, arguing that it is discriminatory and erodes the foundation of India's constitution.
Such laws "are weapons of mass polarization unleashed by fascists on India," said Rahul Gandhi of the opposition Indian National Congress. "I stand in solidarity with all those protesting peacefully."