Large Scale Protests Ongoing

Dec 24, 2019

As of 23 December 2019, large-scale protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) are ongoing in major Indian cities. On 23 December tens of thousands of people gathered at the Quddus Saheb Edigah grounds in Bengaluru (Bangalore) to participate in anti-CAA protest. There were no reports of major disruptions or clashes. Meanwhile, small-scale clashes between protesters and police officers continued throughout the day on 22 December during nationwide protests in opposition to the CAA. Mobile internet and messaging services remain suspended in several cities, including in parts of the capital New Delhi and major cities in the northern Uttar Pradesh state.

On 20 December. at least six people were killed and 50 police officers were seriously injured in Uttar Pradesh in protest-related violence. The deaths occurred in the cities of Bijnor, Forizabad, Meerut and Sambhal. Police officers used batons, tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse protesters. In the capital New Delhi, unknown individuals set a car on fire, while police officers charged a group of protesters and used water cannons to stop them at the Delhi Gate. At least 36 people, including eight police officers, were hospitalized due to injuries.

Separately, in the Gujarat state’s city of Vadodara, police officers used tear gas against protesters who had been throwing stones at the officers. In Hyderabad, the capital of southern Telangana state, police officers arrested approximately 100 people at the People’s Plaza in Necklace Road for attempting to participate in a protest.

Thus far, at least 23 people have been killed and dozens others have been injured in the protest-related violence. Police officers have arrested more than 1,500 people since the protests began on 12 December.

Analyst Comment: The Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing regarding the CAA — which will grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan — on 22 January 2020, but it remains unknown how long the court will take to reach a verdict. Protests are likely to continue at least until the Supreme Court makes a decision. The government is expected to continue using the aforementioned measures to contain protests. However, large-scale restrictions on broadband internet services are highly unlikely. Protests are also more prevalent in Muslim-majority areas. The potential for unrest to quickly escalate is a significant concern. Overreaction by security forces against protesters is the most plausible scenario. Furthermore, due to the religious aspect of the legislation, communal unrest is also a possibility if the demonstrations are sustained for a longer period of time.

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