Citizenship Amendment Act: Delhi police in ‘shooting’ row as protests spread

Citizenship Amendment Act: Delhi police in 'shooting' row as protests spread

Gujarat Police officials detain a demonstrator during a protest against the Indian government's Citizenship Amendment Bill outside Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad on Monday

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Police detain a demonstrator during a protest against the bill outside Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad on Monday

Indian police have denied shooting people during protests in Delhi – as anger at a citizenship law spreads across the country.

At least three people said they were shot, but police said the wounds were caused by broken tear gas canisters.

The BBC has seen the hospital report of one person who thought he was shot. The report said doctors removed a “foreign object” from his thigh.

The new law offers citizenship to non-Muslims from three nearby countries.

The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, said it was “for those who have faced years of persecution outside and have no place to go except India”.

  • Why Assam erupted over India’s ‘anti-Muslim’ law
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But some say the law is discriminatory and part of a “Hindu nationalist” agenda to marginalise India’s 200-million Muslim minority.

Others – particularly in border states – fear being “overrun” by new arrivals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

What happened in Delhi?

During clashes at the Jamia Millia Islamia University on Sunday, there were reports of at least three people being shot by police.

A hospital spokesperson said two people were admitted with bullet wounds, according to local media – something denied by police.

The BBC has seen the medical report of a third person – who said he was a passer-by, not a protester – who thought he had been shot in his thigh.

The report confirmed only that a “foreign object” had been removed under sedation. The injured man told the BBC he saw police shoot at him with a pistol or revolver.

Delhi police have said they had not shot anyone, either with live or rubber bullets.

During the protests, vehicles were set on fire and tear gas was fired.

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Media captionProtests are taking place all over India

The university’s vice-chancellor Najma Akhtar said that 200 people were injured. But police put the number at 39 students hurt, with 30 officers also injured – one of them critically.

Police said they acted with “maximum restraint, minimum force”.

At least six people have died since the protests began in the north-eastern state of Assam on Thursday.

Where else have there been protests?

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Students and activists hold placards during a protest in Bangalore

The anger has spread across the country, with protests reported at more than a dozen universities.

Many of the student demonstrations were fuelled by the perceived police brutality on Sunday.

Students in Delhi, the southern city of Chennai, and Varanasi in the north protested against the government and in support of their fellow students at Jamia Millia Islamia.

Footage from the northern city of Lucknow on Monday showed students throwing stones at security forces, who threw the stones back.

Officers were also seen hitting students with sticks.

In Kolkata, tens of thousands of people joined a demonstration led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her ruling Trinamool Congress party, marching against the law itself.

What does the Indian government say?

On Monday, Mr Modi sent four tweets to defend the law.

He said it was passed by both houses of parliament with “overwhelming support”, and that it illustrated “India’s centuries old culture of acceptance, harmony, compassion, and brotherhood”.

“I want to unequivocally assure my fellow Indians that CAA [the law] does not affect any citizen of India of any religion,” he added.

But Rahul Gandhi – Mr Modi’s defeated opponent in the 2019 election – said both the law and a controversial citizens’ register were “weapons of mass polarisation unleashed by fascists”.

A protester’s view

On Sunday, a group of women were filmed in Delhi trying to protect a male friend from being attacked by police.

Ladeeda Farzana, one of the group, told the BBC why she was protesting. “Everyone knows that the CAB is against Muslims,” she said.

“It is not going to happen to me and those girls, it is going to happen to every Muslim in this country,” the 22-year-old added. “Please be aware, come out, be together and fight against this.”

Read the full story here.

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Media captionWomen shield their friend from being beaten with sticks by police

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