India citizenship law protests leave 22 dead

Posted at 9:17 PM, Dec 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-21 21:17:00-05

At least 15 people have died in violence in India’s Uttar Pradesh state since the protests against a controversial new citizenship lawerupted last week, police said Saturday. The latest figure raises the overall death toll across the country to 22.

People take part in a protest against India’s new citizenship law in Chennai on December 21, 2019. – An eight-year-old boy and four protesters were killed in India on Friday in clashes between police and demonstrators, officials said on December 21, as unrest over a controversial citizenship law rages into a second week. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP) (Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

More than 260 police personnel have been injured in the violence and arson in the state, Praveen Kumar, inspector general of Uttar Pradesh Police, said in a news conference.

CNN reported that on Thursday, two others were killed in protests in the city of Mangalore. Last week, five were killed in northeastern Assam state when protests first erupted.

At the center of the unrest is the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was passed into law last week. The law promises to fast-track citizenship for non-Muslim religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who arrived in India before 2015.

People have taken to the streets across India in response to the new rules, which were passed into law last week, despite a ban on public gatherings in various regions now in place.

Following Thursday’s violence, police in Uttar Pradesh have enforced a law banning public gatherings of four or more people for the next 15 days.

The colonial-era restrictions — known as Section 144 — were going to be imposed across the entire state, Avnish Awasthi, senior official in the Uttar Pradesh Home Department, told CNN.

Internet services in the state capital Lucknow will also remain suspended until Saturday evening, after protesters set fire to buildings and clashed with police on Thursday.

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“Yesterday, internet connectivity in 73 districts was shut down,” Awasthi said. “For the rest of the districts in the states, district officials are making individual decisions.”

In the capital New Delhi, section 144 remained in place in three key protest areas Friday, police said.