Police in India detained more than 100 protesters in key Indian cities Thursday as they defied a ban on protests that authorities hope stop widespread demonstrations against a new citizenship law that opponents say threatens the secular nature of Indian democracy.
Dozens of demonstrations were to take place around country as opposition grows to a new citizenship law that excludes Muslims. The law has sparked anger at what many see as the government’s push to bring India closer to a Hindu state.
The new citizenship law applies to Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities who are in India illegally but can demonstrate religious persecution in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It does not apply to Muslims.
Critics say it’s the latest effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government to marginalize India’s 200 million Muslims, and a violation of the country’s secular constitution.
Modi has defended it as a humanitarian gesture.
The law’s enactment last week follows a contentious process in northeastern Assam state intended to weed out people who entered illegally. Nearly 2 million people in Assam were excluded from an official list of citizens, about half Hindu and half Muslim, and have been asked to prove their citizenship or else be considered foreign.
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