Citizenship Law protests in India set to continue over New Years Eve
Across the country, thousands of Indians are preparing to welcome in the 2020 by continuing to hold protests against a citizenship law in spite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempt to weaken demonstrations that have been running for almost three weeks.
Protests have rocked India since December 12, when the government passed legislation that eased citizenship pathways for non-Muslim minorities from Muslim majority nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to gain Indian citizenship. This combined with the proposed national register of citizens have raised fear of increased discrimination against India’s sizable Muslim minority community as well as chip away at the secular constitution of India.
Protesters have planned at least three demonstrations in the capital, New Delhi, including the Shaheen Bagh area, were hundreds of residents have blocked a major highway for almost 20 days.
Protests have included poetry recitals and speeches which have occurred at numerous locations including outside New Delhi’s Jamia Millia University, which was stormed by police forces earlier this month.
Protesters have shown resolution, braving it out in the cold during what has been reported as New Delhi’s second coldest winter in more than a century Protesters remained unfazed as they scheduled a “New Year’s resolution to defend the constitution” protest on New Years Eve.
Police said that they planned to deploy additional forces in New Delhi on New Years Eve, with traffic curbs imposed in some parts of the capital. Police officials are confident that “all precautionary measures are in place.”
Protesters have adapted their tactics as a result of police action. Further south in Hyderabad, at least two small groups have begun organizing flash protests to maneuver around the police restrictions on larger gatherings.
Typically, half a dozen demonstrators appear in public places such as malls or cafes, holding up placards and encouraging passers by to join in. One of the groups have reportedly held 11 protests to date. They have announced their intentions to hold another protest on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately some protests have turned violent, particularly in Uttar Pradesh State, where at least 25 people have been killed in encounters with local police since early December.
Modi and the BJP maintain that the CAA is non-discriminatory and is needed to aid discriminated non-Muslim minorities in the three neighboring coutnries.