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Agencies
December 16, 2019

6 die in protests against Indian citizenship law

Top Story

A
Agencies
December 16, 2019

GUWAHATI/NEW YORK/NEW DELHI: Angry protesters in northeast India vowed Sunday to keep demonstrating against a contentious citizenship law as the death toll from bloody clashes opposing the bill rose to six.

Tension remained high at the epicentre of the unrest in Assam state´s biggest city, Guwahati, with troops patrolling the streets amid tight security.

In Assam, four people died after being shot by police, while another was killed when a shop he was sleeping in was set on fire and a sixth after he was beaten up during a protest, officials said.

Some 5,000 people took part in a fresh demonstration in the city on Sunday, with hundreds of police watching as they sang, chanted and carried banners with the words "long live Assam".

Besides stoking concern among Muslims, the proposed changes have also led to demonstrations by residents unhappy about an influx of Hindus from neighbouring Bangladesh who stand to gain citizenship. "Assam will continue to protest. India is a democracy and the government has to listen to us," said Karan Mili, a colleague of one of the victims, 25-year-old Iswor Nayak, who died Sunday.

"We don´t want violence but protests will continue. Assamese will not stop until government revokes the law," another demonstrator, Pratima Sharma, said.

Officials said oil and gas production in the state were hit by the curfew, although the restrictions were eased during the day on Sunday with some shops opening.

In West Bengal state, where protests stretched into a third day, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee -- who has spoken out against the national government´s push for the law -- suspended internet services in several districts.

Demonstrators set fire to tyres, staged sit-ins on highways and railway tracks, and torched trains and buses, with riot police brought in to disperse protesters and train services suspended in some parts of the east.

In India´s capital New Delhi, video shared on social media showed a bus on fire and police appearing to fire tear gas at protesters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed the opposition Congress party for the violence. "To give respect to those who fled to India and were forced to live as

refugees, both houses of parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill," he said Sunday at a rally in eastern Jharkhand state. "Congress and its allies are stoking fire over the Citizenship Act but people of northeast have rejected violence. They (Congress supporters) are resorting to arson because they did not get their way."

Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday called again for calm, saying local cultures in northeastern states were not under threat. "Culture, language, social identity and political rights of our brothers and sisters from northeast will remain intact," Shah added in Jharkhand, News18 television network reported him as saying.

For Islamic groups, the opposition, rights activists and others in India, the new law is seen as part of Modi´s Hindu-nationalist agenda to marginalise India´s 200 million Muslims. He denies the allegation.

Rights groups and a Muslim political party are challenging the law in the Supreme Court, arguing that it is against the constitution and India’s secular traditions. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally in Assam, Asom Gana Parishad, which had supported the bill in parliament, told local media Sunday it now intended to challenge the law in the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, an internationally acclaimed expert on genocide has grimly warned that Muslims in the Indian state of Assam and occupied Kashmir are just one step away from extermination, as he drew parallels between Narendra Modi's government and Germany under the Nazis.

All the conditions are in place for genocide of Muslims in Kashmir and Assam, Dr Gregory Stanton, an American who is the founder of Genocide Watch, told an audience on the Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, according to a press release issued by the Indian-American Muslim Council (IAMC).

Stanton, who is the creator of ‘Ten Stages of Genocide,’ said “Muslims in the two places are just one step away from extermination.” “Preparation for a genocide is definitely under way in India,” Stanton noted, according to IAMC, which was among three organisations that received a briefing from exports on the Hill.

Kashmir has been under crippling lockdown since August 5 revocation of its autonomous status while enactment of Citizenship Act has alienated Muslims in Assam. According to Dr Stanton, persecution of Muslims in Assam and Kashmir “is the stage just before genocide.” The next stage is extermination, that’s what we call a genocide, Dr Stanton told an audience of Congressional and government officials. The Congressional briefing, “Ground Reports on Kashmir and NRC,” where Dr Stanton spoke, was organized by three US -based civil society organisations, namely, the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Emgage Action, and Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR).

Assam is witnessing the “construction of a pretext for expulsion (of Muslims),” Dr Stanton said the perilous situations in both Kashmir and Assam was a “classic case” and followed the pattern of the ‘Ten Stages of Genocide.’

The first stage was ‘classification’ of ‘us versus them?’

The second stage, ‘symbolisation,’ named the victims as ‘foreigner.’ The third stage, ‘discrimination,’ ‘classified (the victims) out of the group accepted for citizenship’ so that they had no ‘human rights or civil rights of citizens’ and were ‘discriminated against legally.’ The fourth stage, dehumanisation, ‘is when the genocidal spiral begins to go downwards. You classify the others as somehow worse than you. You give them names like ‘terrorists,’ or even names of animals, start referring to them as a cancer in the body politic, you talk about them as a disease that must be somehow dealt with. The fifth stage was creating an ‘organisation’ to commit the genocide: the role played by the ‘Indian army in Kashmir and the census takers in Assam.’

The sixth stage was ‘polarisation,’ which is achieved by propaganda. The seventh stage was ‘preparation,’ and the eighth ‘persecution,’ where Assam and Kashmir currently were. After the ninth stage of ‘extermination,’ comes the tenth stage of ‘denial,’ Dr Stanton said.

“Prime Minister Modi’s regime has all the hallmarks of an incipient Nazi regime,” he said. “Nationalism taken to its extreme is fascism and Nazism,” the expert added.

Meanwhile, scores of people gathered outside the old Delhi Police Headquarters to protest the force's handling of the situation after an agitation against the new citizenship law near Jamia university on Sunday turned violent.

The protesters raised anti-police slogans outside the headquarters in ITO area, after a call for it was given by the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union. Other students' bodies endorsed the protest call.

Earlier Sunday, protestors torched several vehicles near Jamia University and clashed with police. Later, police entered Jamia Millia Islamia to control the situation and said they detained some of the people who allegedly indulged in violence. But Jamia University administration said students did not participate in the violence.

Jamia protest: Police says stones pelted at them, 6 jawans injured, situation normal now. The Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi became the scene of mass violence as the Delhi Police cracked down on people protesting against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.

The Jamia Milia Islamia University in Delhi became the scene of mass violence as the Delhi Police cracked down on people protesting against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act. Talking about the protest to India Today TV, DCP South east Delhi Chinmaya Biswal said that they are not against the university and that they had to scatter the raging crowd to maintain law and order. He said, "We are not against any university. Stones were pelted on us. We have scattered the raging crowd to maintain law and order. The proctor should check who the people are who have pelted stones at us. Now the situation is normal. Some people have been detained. Over 4000 people had been protesting since morning. University students should not pelt stones. University is talking wrong. We are scattering violent mob." The DCP also added that six of his men were also injured in the violence.

On being asked if the police fired at the protesters, Chinmoy Biswal, DCP South East said, "There has been no firing absolutely. It is a false rumour that is being spread. The mob caused arson, set motorcycles ablaze, it pelted stones at us. Our only interest is to push the mob back, so law and order can be restored in the area. We have no problem with university (Jamia Millia Islamia University) students," he added.

Schools in South East Delhi and Noida will remain shut on Monday.

According to Delhi Fire Service, students of Jamia Millia Islamia University blocked the way of one of the fire tenders and damaged it. Two firemen were also injured in the violence, they said.

Delhi Traffic Police said in a tweet that the vehicle movement was closed from Okhla Underpass to Sarita Vihar due to the agitation. Vehicles coming from Badarpur and Ashram Chowk were diverted to alternative routes due to the blockade. Jamia Millia Islamia, Okhla Vihar, Jasola Vihar Shaheen Bagh, Vasant Vihar, Munirka, RK Puram, Patel Chowk, Vishwavidyalaya, GTB Nagar and Shivaji Stadium Metro stations were closed in view of the situation prevailing in the national capital.

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