Hundreds of thousands of protesters denounced the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in demonstrations across India on Republic Day, Sunday, January 26. Notable areas in which demonstrations took place included Kerala state (from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram) and Kolkata, where human-chain demonstrations were organized, as well as Mumbai, Lucknow, and the Shaheen Bagh area of New Delhi. Also, in New Delhi, the Indian government hosted the Republic Day parade on Sunday. In Assam state, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) took responsibility for five minor explosions which caused no reported casualties.
Similar anti-CAA demonstrations are to be anticipated across India over the near term. Disruptions to transportation and business are to be expected in protest-affected areas.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslim minorities fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. In conjunction with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), activists 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. On November 20, 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the NRC will be implemented nationwide. Opponents of the CAA argue that it isolates Muslim Indians by favoring 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. India's Supreme Court refused petitions to halt the implementation of the CAA on December 18.
India's supreme court refused to strike down the law on January 22, 2020, prompting further protests. At least 30 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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