21:32 GMT29 January 2020
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    Rallies Intensify in India’s Assam as Protesters Hit Streets Topless Over Citizenship Bill

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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Hundreds of people across India have joined hands against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) that was introduced for consideration in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, on Monday by India’s federal Home Minister Amit Shah.

    The proposed legislation seeks to grant citizenship to illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, but excludes Muslims.

    Massive protests were carried out in New Delhi, as also in the north-eastern region of the country, where the protesters have called for a shutdown on Monday and Tuesday.

    People fear that the legislation, if passed, will lead to an influx of immigrants, especially from neighbouring Bangladesh that shares a border with five of Indian states.

    The immigrants in India’s northeast region are feared could increase the number of militant organisations. This region, comprising seven ethnically diverse states, has historically seen the arrival of undocumented immigrants.

    The protests came in varied of forms, while nude protests were staged in Assam’s Dibrugarh district, a massive torch-bearing protest was carried out by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in Lakhimpur district of the state. A group from the All Assam Matak Students' Union also held a naked protest in the street of Sivasagar town in Assam. Police later detained the naked protesters. 

    The North East Students’ Organisation called for an 11-hour bandh (shutdown) in the whole of the northeast on Tuesday to protest against the issue. Several roads were blocked in Assam due to rubber tyres being burned.

     

    Former UN diplomat and now a member of Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, Shashi Tharoor alleged that the nationalist governing Bharatiya Janata Party government wants to single out one community and called it a “fundamentally unconstitutional" law.

    The legislation was previously introduced in parliament in 2016, but Rajya Sabha, the upper house, rejected it, saying that the “right to citizenship is for all and not specific religions”. It was further argued that the legislation would create “ethnic divisions” in the country, especially in ethnically diverse Assam.

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