Protesters accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of pursuing policies aimed at forcing people to prove their citizenship and putting people from marginalised communities at risk.

Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against a new citizenship law, in New Delhi, India. January 3, 2020.
Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against a new citizenship law, in New Delhi, India. January 3, 2020. (Reuters)

Thousands of women are leading a protest in New Delhi against India's anti-citizenship law.

Women of all ages sat on the streets throughout the night, braving the cold, to demonstrate their anguish over the controversial law, dubbed as being anti-Muslim.

This morning, they were joined by LGBTQ+ communities,  rights groups and other supporters as they began a mass march through the streets of the capital.

Describing themselves as “Citizens Against Bigots,” they carried placards and shouted slogans accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of pursuing policies aimed at forcing people to prove their citizenship and putting people from marginalised communities at risk.

India's main opposition parties –– led by the Congress party –– say the Modi government is trying to consolidate its Hindu base, which constitutes more than 80 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people. 

Muslims comprise nearly 14 percent of the population.

The new citizenship law and a proposed National Register of Citizens have brought thousands of protesters out in the streets in many cities and towns since Parliament approved the measure on December 11, leaving at least 23 dead in clashes between security forces and the protesters.

The law allows Hindus, Christians, and other religious minorities who are in India illegally to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted because of their religion in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

It does not apply to Muslims.

Thousands of Hindus, too, have joined the protests to assure the minority Muslims that they are not isolated. 

The governing Hindu nationalist party downplays the protests, saying they are orchestrated by opponents.

Source: AP