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Violence flares in New Delhi over Indian citizenship law

World News | Published:

Police said three buses have been set on fire during a protest.

India Citizenship Protest

Police fired tear gas and struck demonstrators with batons in India as thousands protested against a new law that will give citizenship to non-Muslims fleeing religious persecution from several neighbouring countries.

The third day of what had been a peaceful demonstration against the law, passed by India’s Parliament last week, descended into chaos in New Delhi on Sunday afternoon.

Three buses were set on fire, police officials said.

India Citizenship Protest
An injured student outside the Jamia Millia Islamia University (Sheikh Saaliq/PA)

Police official Chinmoy Biswal said six police personnel were injured in the melee.

Student organisers blamed outsiders for the violence.

“We have time and again maintained that our protests are peaceful and non-violent,” they said in a statement.

“We stand by this approach and condemn any party involved in the violence.”

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Demonstrators fear an influx of foreigners will dilute native Assamese people’s political sway and culture.

Five people have been killed in ongoing protests over the law that, for the first time in Indian history, grants citizenship on the basis of religion.

At Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, where slogans such as “#SecularIndia” were daubed on buildings, many students told The Associated Press that police fired tear gas inside the university’s library and beat up protesters before sealing all campus gates.

Student Tufail Ahmad said: “We were treated like criminals. Scores were injured and I escaped from the campus to save my life.”

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Outside campus, the area around Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, a predominantly Muslim area, was deserted with shops and houses latched tight after the violent protests.

A trail of stones that video footage showed protesters pelted earlier in the day at police lay with debris of broken glass and splatters of blood.

Videos shared with the AP from students streaming past a police perimeter surrounding the campus showed scenes of chaos in the university library with police firing tear gas and students huddled under tables and locked inside bathrooms.

Waseem Ahmed Khan, an official of Jamia Millia Islamia University, said: “Police have entered the campus by force, no permission was given.

“Our staff and students are being beaten up and forced to leave the campus.”

Many of the injured students were taken to nearby hospitals, including Holy Family, where about 26 students were treated, according to Father George, the hospital’s spokesman.

Mujeeb Raza, a student who was being treated at the nearby Al-Shifa hospital, said: “The police beat me mercilessly after pinning me down to the ground.

“My other friends weren’t spared either.”

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