India death toll hits nine as protests rage against 'anti-Muslim' citizenship law

India death toll hits nine as protests rage against 'anti-Muslim' citizenship law
The new citizenship law has provoked deep-rooted fears that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to remould India as an exclusively Hindu nation.
3 min read
20 December, 2019
Police beat protesters with batons in Lucknow on Thursday [Getty]
After more than a week of mass civil disobedience against an anti-Muslim citizenship law, three demonstrators were shot dead by police in India on Thursday, raising the death toll to nine.

Fresh clashes took place between Indian police and protesters, as tens of thousands gathered in large cities across the country, including Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

The oppressive law which lies at heart of the turmoil is the discriminatory Citizenship Amendent Bill.

Stripping Muslim migrants from three neighbouring countries of recognition as persecuted minorities, it has provoked deep-rooted fears of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision to remould India as an exclusively Hindu nation.

Read more:  Five killed in protests against 'anti-Muslim' Indian citizenship law

Security forces in Mangalore fired on a crowd of 200 people, killing two, according to police spokesman Qadir Shah. Four other remains in hospital, having succumbed to gunshot wounds. 

In Lucknow, another protester was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds. Police vigorously deny they opened fire in the city, home to a large Muslim population.

Yet the protester's father told the Times of India that his son was shot while lost in a crowd of demonstrators, after leaving home to buy groceries.

Lucknow was the site of fresh protests on Friday, as police stopped hundreds of people making their way to a planned protest. According to an AFP protester on the scene, the authorities fired tears gas and charged at the crowd with batons. 

Thousands have been detained nationwide. Hundreds of people were bundled into buses by police in Delhi and Bangalore, with reports that police in Bangalore had ran out of buses to transport all those arrested.
Police brutality - such as that reported in a Delhi university on Sunday - have added fuel to the anger, with student demonstrators hurling rocks at security forces and setting fire to vehicles. 

Jamia Milia Islamia university's vice-chancellor Najma Akhtar said on Monday that 200 people were injured but police put the number at 39 students hurt with 30 officers also injured, one of them critically.

Read more: Students clash on campuses as India's 'anti-Muslim' law protests spread

The authorities have deployed emergency measures to contain the situation, imposing laws banning large gatherings, blocking internet access, and shutting down shops and restaurants in sensitive pockets across the country.

In Uttar Pradesh - home to over 200 million people - mobile internet and text messaging services were cut.

Mobile phone services were also temporarily suspended on Thursday in Delhi, and access in parts of northeast India — where the wave of protests began — was only restored on Friday.

Internet blackouts have also been imposwed in Assam, Karnatka and parts of Uttar Pradesh, all home to a large Muslim minorities.

When combined with the continuing internet blackout in Kashmir,  India was on Thursday home to largest internet blackout in the world.

Despite this, civil rights groups, students and professionals, as well as general citizens are turning to social media to mobilise and coordinate protests - whilst urging everyone to do so peacefully.

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