Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to stem protests that have been going on for nearly three weeks, thousands of Indians entered the New Year by demonstrating against citizenship law.
The protests have rocked India since December 12 when the government passed legislation that paved the way for non-Muslim minorities from neighboring Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to gain Indian citizenship.
Combined with the opposition to the proposed national register of citizens, many Indians fear that the law will discriminate against minority Muslims and alienate India’s secular constitution.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Citizens’ Register (NRC) are part of the election manifesto of Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist party.
Protesters have planned at least three demonstrations, including the Shaheen Bagh area in the capital New Delhi, where hundreds of residents blocked a main road for 18 days.
Irshad Alam, a 25-year-old resident of Shaheen Bagh, stood by his side for a year and his wife. He said he would take part in the protest every day.
“It’s freezing here,” but we’re still here because he cares about this movement.
” Over 200 people in and around the Muslim mosque recited poems while chanting.
Resident Maqsood Alam said the protesters were not afraid of police crackdown.
“We hope every day. But I will tell you one thing,” he said. “This group is not afraid of the government. They are ready to sacrifice their lives for this movement. We will not leave here until the government regains the law.”
Organizers were planning poetic readings and speeches at a protest outside Jamia Millia University in New Delhi, which was attacked by police earlier this month.
“Another New Year’s Resolution to Protect the Constitution,” read another protest schedule planned in New Delhi, which is now in the grip of a second winter of more than a century.
Police said they deployed additional forces in New Delhi during the New Year’s Eve and imposed traffic barriers in some parts of the capital.
“There are all precautionary measures,” said police officer Chinmoy Biswal, who oversees the city’s southeast, including Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Millia University.
“Recently, there have been no incidents. So we hope things go well, ”he told Reuters.
In the southern city of Hyderabad, at least two small groups of demonstrators are organizing flash marches to circumvent police restrictions on large gatherings.