India Deploys Troops to Country's Northeast Amid Protests Against New Citizenship Legislation

© AP Photo / Channi AnandIndian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers stand guard during a night patrol near the India-Pakistan border fence at Suchet Garh in Ranbir Singh Pura, about 27 kilometres (17 miles) south of Jammu, India, on 17 January 2018
Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers stand guard during a night patrol near the India-Pakistan border fence at Suchet Garh in Ranbir Singh Pura, about 27 kilometres (17 miles) south of Jammu, India, on 17 January 2018 - Sputnik International
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New Delhi (Sputnik): Assam, a state in India, imposed an indefinite curfew in its capital Guwahati, the epicentre of violent protests against a controversial constitutional amendment to provide citizenship rights to illegal immigrants, provided they are not Muslims. India's parliament gave its assent to the legislation on Wednesday (11 December).

Agitating protesters defied prohibitory orders in Guwahati on Thursday and hit the streets against the Citizen (Amendment) Bill (CAB), even as the situation remained tense across the state, with troops being deployed in the worst-hit areas.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to assure the citizens of Assam that they have nothing to worry about regarding the legislation.

​Modi added that the federal government was committed to protecting the rights of Assamese people.

​The protests have also affected scheduled flights to Assam, with airline companies taking to twitter to announce cancellations.

​Meanwhile, the All Assam Students’ Union has called for a protest at 1100 Hrs IST on Thursday. The government has suspended internet for 24 hours in 10 districts of Assam till Thursday. The army has conducted a flag march – a practice to improve the difficult law and order situation in Guwahati on Thursday.

Five Army Columns have been requisitioned for deployment in Assam, while three columns of the paramilitary Assam Rifles have been deployed in the neighbouring State of Tripura.

​The protesters argued that that the influx of immigrants from other countries, especially neighbouring Bangladesh, would reduce them to ethnic minorities in their own states.

Following a six-hour debate, the CAB was passed in the upper house of the Indian Parliament Rajya Sabha on Thursday. The legislation will now require presidential approval before it becomes a law.

The proposed legislation seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities persecuted in the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The bill was furiously contested by the opposition parties, which termed it “discriminatory” towards Muslims and insisted that it violated the principles of the Indian Constitution.

However, Federal Home Minister Amit Shah assured Parliament on Wednesday that the Bill was not against the Muslims in India and that they have nothing to fear.

Meanwhile, the ongoing agitation might also cast a shadow on a proposed summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Premier Shinzō Abe from Dec 15-17. Though not officially announced, there were indications that it would be held in Guwahati.

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