Foreign: Death toll in protests against India’s controversial citizenship law rises to 22

Protesters participate in a mass protest against the controversial new citizenship law in Kolkata, India, Dec. 21, 2019. The death toll in violent protests against the controversial new citizenship law in India rose to 22 on Saturday, officials said. (Xinhua/Tumpa Mondal)

NEW DELHI, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) — The death toll in violent protests against the controversial new citizenship law in India rose to 22 on Saturday, officials said.

A 25-year-old man was killed during clashes with police in Rampur district of the northern Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, taking the death toll to 15 in the state. The dead include an eight-year-old boy who was trampled in a stampede after police charged the crowd with batons.

“So far 15 people have got killed in violence since Thursday in the state,” a senior police official Shirish Chandra told Xinhua. “One got killed today in Rampur, 13 were killed in yesterday’s violence in different districts and one person was killed on Thursday in Lucknow.”

Massive protests rocked the state since Thursday against the new citizenship law that protesters say was discriminatory toward Muslims.

According to Uttar Pradesh Police Chief O P Singh, none of the deaths in the state took place due to police firing.

Locals said clashes broke out when police tried to stop people from taking protest rallies against the law. Police fired tear smoke shells and charged protesters with batons, who responded by throwing stones at the police.

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Death toll in protests against India’s controversial citizenship law rises to 22

Authorities have imposed prohibitory orders across the state and suspended mobile internet services at around a dozen districts.

On Thursday two people were killed in Manguluru of the southern state of Karnataka.

Last week five people were killed during similar clashes in Guwhati of the northeastern state of Assam.

Protests against the law was triggered on Dec. 11, the day India’s upper house of parliament passed the controversial citizenship law.

Since then there has been no let-up in the protests.

On Saturday thousands of people again took to roads against the law. Reports said massive protests were underway in New Delhi, Guwahati, and several cities of Bihar, West Bengal, Chennai and Kerala.

The law aims at granting citizenship to illegal immigrants belonging to six religions — Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Parsi and Christianity — from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, it has kept out Muslim immigrants from applying for citizenship.

Opposition parties and civil society members in India criticize the law as contrary to secular principles enshrined in India’s constitution as it excludes Muslims.

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