Draconian colonial-era law is being used to halt protests against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) law, which critics say makes it easier for ‘persecuted’ minorities from neighbouring countries to get citizenship, except if they are Muslims.

The ban on protests was imposed in parts of the capital, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh state and some areas of Karnataka state, including the city of Bangalore. Thousands of protesters have reportedly been detained for defying the ban.

The contentious colonial-era provision, known as Section 144, authorises official to prohibit gatherings of more than four people should there be a risk of a violation of law and order.

Several people have been killed in more than a week of demonstrations against the citizenship law.

The protests are seen as a major challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Many Indians fear the NRC, which offers citizenship to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, undermines India’s secular constitution. They argued that citizenship should not be based on faith.

Modi has dismissed these concerns as ‘lies’ spread by his opponents.

[Picture: DiplomatTesterMan, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84919451]

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