Members of the Assamese student community hold banners and shout slogans during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Bangalore, India, on Saturday. Photo by Jagadeesh Nv/EPA-EFE/
Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Protests over a citizenship bill that excludes Muslims continued into their fourth day Saturday throughout India, turning violent in West Bengal and intensifying in the country's capital.
The government also imposed a curfew in Guwahati, Assam, where three people died this week after an oil tanker was set on fire. Internet services were also suspended throughout Assam for 48 hours through Monday to prevent misuse of social media and to maintain law and order throughout the state, authorities said.
Demonstrators have been protesting since the passage Wednesday of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which creates an expedited path to citizenship for migrants who entered the country illegally and belong to one of six religions, excluding Islam. It applies to migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, all of which are majority-Muslim nations.
Activists say the new law violates the country's Constitution and secular standards, and human rights observers internationally have expressed concern that it will have a discriminatory effect against Muslims in the country.
"It can be an act, bill, or whatever, but clearly it is against the Constitution and is unlawful," said Rahul Roy, organizer of the Not In My Name campaign, which began organizing against anti-Muslim violence in 2017. "The intention of the act is to create communal tension in the country."
Protesters in West Bengal set fire to part of a railway station complex, as well as some stores and buses, prompting calls for peace from Mamata Banjeree, the state's chief minister.
"Do not take up law in your hand. Do not put up road blockades and rail blockades and create trouble for the common people on the roads," said a statement from her office. "Do not cause damage to government properties. Strict action would be taken against those who are found guilty in creating disturbances."
Banjeree has also said she opposes the law and will not implement it, as have ministers of Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.