Tens of thousands of people in Hyderabad participated in the "Million March" on Saturday, January 4, denouncing the Citizenship Amendment Act. Protesters reportedly continued to join the demonstration through late Saturday afternoon (local time). Lingering traffic disruptions are possible in Hyderabad over the coming hours.
Activists have also called for more demonstrations across several cities through Wednesday, January 8, amid heightened tensions. The Communist Party of India has announced a week-long protest from Wednesday, January 1, to Tuesday, January 7; however, it did not immediately release further details regarding meeting times or locations. Activists have also called for a nationwide general strike on Wednesday, January 8.
A heightened security presence and disruptions to transportation, business, and telecommunications are to be expected around protest-affected areas over the coming days. Clashes between protesters and police cannot be ruled out.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslim minorities fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Opponents claim that the legislation is in violation of the constitution, which prohibits religious discrimination against citizens. In conjunction with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), activists also claim that it specifically seeks to target Indian Muslims. The NRC aims to identify illegal immigrants by requiring individuals to prove their citizenship based on specific documentation prior to a certain cut-off date, including land and tenancy records. The NRC has so far only been implemented in Assam, where more than 1.9 million people failed to qualify as of August and were subsequently put in detention centers. However, on November 20, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the NRC will be implemented nationwide. While the NRC aims to expose all illegal immigrants, opponents of the CAA argue that the act isolates Muslim Indians as it favors all non-Muslim religious minorities who may fail to qualify for the NRC but will nonetheless be assured citizenship. The CAA has also received opposition - particularly in several northeastern states - due to fears that it will encourage an influx of immigrants that will affect the ethnic balance.
The Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) passed the CAA legislation on December 9, while the Rajya Sabha (upper house of parliament) passed the bill on December 11. India's Supreme Court refused petitions to halt the implementation of the CAA on December 18. A hearing on the act has been scheduled for January 22. At least 27 people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters, and police officers have arrested several hundred demonstrators since December 11.
Individuals in India are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations as violence may flare up without warning, and prepare for widespread disruptions to transportation, business, and telecommunications in protest-affected areas. If a demonstration is organized without warning, individuals are advised to refrain from crossing roadblocks, take shelter in a safe place, and avoid taking pictures. Travelers should adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities (especially if curfews are enforced) and their home governments.
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