Riots have gripped the Indian capital of New Delhi over a law that grants citizenship for illegal immigrants from neighboring Muslim-majority countries — as long as they are not Muslim.
The violence, which coincided with U.S. President Donald Trump’s first state visit, broke out between those in favor and those against the law in the streets northeast of the city. The riots led to the deaths of at least 43 people since Sunday.
Passed by the Indian Parliament in December, the Citizenship Amendment Act (2019) amends the legislation from 1955 by providing a path to Indian citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who illegally immigrated from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan before December 2014.
The amendment leaves off Muslims, however, as proponents justify that it aims to help victims of religious persecution in those countries, which happen to be Muslim-majorities.
To date, the Indian government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has provided no explanation for singling out immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, despite the fact that India receives more immigrants from other countries.
The law fits into the party’s larger goal of building a Hindu nation, leaving as many as 200 million Muslims with Indian citizenships insecure of their future, according to an analysis written by Suparna Chaudhry for the Washington Post.
Since the violence escalated, Indian Twitter users have shared updates using the hashtag “#DelhiIsBurning.” Top tweets show graphic images and videos of the riots, house torching, and gun-wielding, to name a few.
Doctors said that most who were killed had died of gunshot wounds. They include both Muslims and Hindus, The New York Times noted.
Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition party Indian National Congress, tweeted Monday that he “unequivocally condemned” the violence.
“The violence today in Delhi is disturbing & must be unequivocally condemned. Peaceful protests are a sign of a healthy democracy, but violence can never be justified. I urge the citizens of Delhi to show restraint, compassion & understanding no matter what the provocation.”
Among the worst acts of violence, occurred in a mosque in the Ashok Nagar neighborhood on Tuesday. Anti-CAA protesters reportedly stormed in during a prayer, beat up the imam, killed the muezzin and ultimately set the building on fire.
“They brought batons and stones inside the mosque and the people outside had guns as well. We had to stop praying and run away,” local Abdul Samar told CNN.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was hosting Trump amid the riots, called for peace in a tweet on Wednesday.
“Peace and harmony are central to our ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times. It is important that there is calm and normalcy is restored [sic] at the earliest.”
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