Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The death toll in India protests against a citizenship law mounted to at least 16 Saturday, including an 8-year-old.
An 8-year-old boy who died in a stampede in Varanasi as policemen chased a violent mob Friday was among 16 people killed in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Uttar Pradesh within a few days, Press Trust of India reported.
Protests began Dec. 11 after India's Parliament passed the bill, which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party says offers sanctuary to those fleeing religious persecution in neighboring Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Critics say it discriminates against Muslims by only granting citizenship status to non-Muslim immigrants.
The Times of India had reported earlier that 15 had died during the past 72 hours, including the 8-year-old boy in Varanasi, four in Meerut, two each in Bijnore, Sambhal, Firozabad and Kanpur, and one each in Rampur and Lucknow.
"Not even a single bullet was fired by the police, but the groups had gathered at Hathi Khana Chowk area of city despite no permission," Rampur Superintendent of Police Ajay Pal told Times of India.
The latest death was reported from the city of Rampur in clashes between police and anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters Saturday evening.
Five bikes, including one from a person with the media and one from police, and a car were set afire during the violence, and five protesters were injured as police charged the crowd.
"Of the five injured, four were referred to Meerut for treatment where one died, while another is in serious condition," District Magistrate Aunjaneya Singh told PTI. "Around a dozens protesters have been detained."
Amitabh Bajpai, a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, and Kamlesh Tewari, a former member of the body, were arrested and their vehicles were seized as a precautionary measure, PTI reported.
In Kanpur, protesters against the citizenship law Saturday set a police post on fire and bricks were used as weapons, injuring some people. Police used tear gas and canes to disperse them.
Authorities have arrested 705 people for committing substantive offenses and 4,500 were detained across the state, Uttar Pradesh Inspector General Praveen Kumar said in Lucknow on Saturday.
Kumar added that 102 people were also arrested for making objectionable remarks on social media.
"So far action has been taken against 14,101 social media posts," Kumar said. "This includes 5,965 Twitter posts; 7995 Facebook [accounts] and 141 YouTube."
Following state government orders, Internet services were suspended across major cities in Uttar Pradesh.