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12 Dec, 2019 07:42

Indian government sends troops to Assam after violent protests against citizenship bill (VIDEO)

Protests over a bill giving fast track Indian citizenship to non-Muslims have engulfed the state of Assam. The government responded with a redeployment of troops, curfews, and a suspension of internet services.

The protests in the northeastern state turned violent on Wednesday night after the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was passed by the Indian parliament – now one presidential signature short of becoming law. People targeted the homes of high-ranking members of the ruling BJP party, who they accuse of discriminating against Muslims.

The government introduced of a 24-hour suspension of mobile internet services in some parts of Assam, which was ordered on Wednesday to prevent attempts to “inflame passions” through social media.

New Delhi says the CAB is necessary to protect persecuted minorities from Muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan - Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jain, and Parsis. It offers them an easy way to obtain Indian citizenship. The bill does not include Muslims in the six religious groups – the fact that prompted Muslims in Assam to voice their anger.

Tensions in Assam have grown rapidly over the week, with protesters switching from burning copies of the loathed piece of legislation to burning tires and cars. After the Wednesday night outburst, which happened in defiance of a curfew, the government in New Delhi sent troops from other parts of India. The troops restored order in the state capital, Guwahati, but protests continued on Thursday in other places.

The volatile situation also caused a disruption in traffic after several airlines canceled their Thursday and Friday flights to and from cities in Assam, including Guwahati, Dibrugarh, and Jorha. Similar cancelations were announced by train services in the state.

Prime Minister Modi addressed the disgruntled residents of Assam, saying they have nothing to worry about. “No one can take away your rights, unique identity and beautiful culture. It will continue to flourish and grow,” he tweeted.

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