Indian authorities stepped up security in major cities on Friday and suspended mobile data services in some places in an effort to maintain order ahead of protests planned against a new citizenship law. At least 25 people have been killed in protests across the country since the law, seen as discriminatory toward Muslims, was adopted on Dec. 11.
In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, police reportedly cracked down on demonstrators, taking at least 600 into custody. The state is a stronghold of the ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which enacted the law. Authorities have also restricted mobile internet access and imposed emergency laws banning assemblies.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA, offers a fast-track to citizenship for persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, but excludes Muslims such as the Ahmadiyya, Hazara or Rohingya. Critics say the law is not only discriminatory, but in violation of India’s secular constitution.
Opponents of the CAA argue that it’s part of the BJP’s broader effort to advance a Hindu nationalist agenda. They cite the recent annexation of Kashmir and the reported removal of nearly 2 million people in Muslim-majority Assam from the National Register of Citizens.
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