On Friday, February 28, a student union campaign against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Shillong, Meghalaya state's capital, resulted in clashes between residents and migrants around the city. One person was killed in the initial violence, while two other victims were recorded amid clashes on Saturday, February 29, and Sunday, March 1, bringing the death toll to three with dozens more wounded. Bara Bazar has seen particularly severe violence, and additional security forces have been deployed.
Authorities imposed a curfew at 12:00 (local time) on Saturday, which was extended on Sunday. Telecom services were also shut down by authorities until Monday evening.
Further extensions of the curfew and telecoms interruptions, as well as additional protests and clashes, are possible over the coming days.
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, 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 to strike down the law on January 22, prompting further protests. At least 30 people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters, and police officers have arrested thousands of demonstrators since December 11.
Delhi witnessed the worst violence in decades from February 24 to 26 during which at least 46 people were killed as anti-CAA demonstrations descended into inter-communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.
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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