India citizenship protests

This item appears on page 19 of the February 2020 issue.

Violent protests broke out in India against a controversial citizenship law passed by the government on Dec. 12. The law grants citizenship to Hindu, Christian and minority-religion asylum seekers from the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh while specifically denying citizenship to Muslim asylum seekers from those countries. The law was not yet in effect at press time, with a number of legal challenges pending.

A ban against protests, covering Delhi and the states of Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, was instituted on Dec. 19. It was immediately broken by protesters, leading to thousands of arrests.

On Dec. 24, India’s parliament agreed to fund a census and population survey, known as the National Population Register (NPR), despite public concerns that it is an attempt to revoke the citizenship of people of certain religious minority groups, particularly Muslims. Many of those protesting the citizenship law are also protesting the NPR.

At press time, protests were ongoing in at least 17 cities in India, including the capital, Delhi. Protesters had clashed with police and caused property damage. At least six people had been killed, with many others wounded. According to reports, students were driving the protests, and most of the protests were occurring on university campuses.