Browsing Tag


Human Rights

Gunman fires at anti-CAA protest rally in Delhi in presence of police

Image result for gunman fire on protesters in presence of police

A teenager today pulled out a gun and fired at students protesting against the citizenship law near Jamia Millia University in Delhi, injuring one student. Only after he fired the shot did the police, present in large numbers to keep a check on the protest, react.

The protests spiraled as hundreds more joined in, breaking police barricades as they tried to march towards Rajghat.

Home Minister Amit Shah said he had ordered stringent action in the shooting incident and “the culprit will not be spared”. The probe has been transferred to the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police.

In a chilling video, the teenager is seen walking backwards as he points his gun at protesters. Dozens of policemen in riot gear are seen behind him, but none of them is seen trying to stop the shooter.

Yeh lo azaadi (here’s your freedom)” he sneers at the protesters. After he fires the shot, one police officer is seen walking towards him and grabbing him. Saying that he was a juvenile, police officials said that the attacker cannot be named.

While being taken away, he shouted “Delhi Police zindabad (Long live Delhi Police)”.

The shooter has been detained and is being questioned. “A crowd was coming from Jamia. The person came from the crowd,” senior police officer Chinmoy Biswal told NDTV as the police faced questions about their slow response.

The incident comes against the backdrop of hate speeches made during the campaign for the February 8 Delhi election; Union Minister Anurag Thakur has been banned from campaigning for 72 hours after he was caught on camera encouraging the slogan “Desh Ke Gaddaro Ko, Goli Maaro S***** Ko (Shoot the traitors)” at a rally.

The teenager is from Uttar Pradesh’s Jewar, near Delhi. Details on his Facebook page soon started emerging.

The man had gone live on Facebook minutes before he drew out his gun. Videos on his Facebook timeline showed him walking around in the crowded road – the venue of the protest – with a red backpack on. His previous posts seemed to indicate that he had come prepared for the consequences of his action. “On my last journey, take me draped in saffron and shout slogans of Jai Shri Ram,” one of them in Hindi read. Another more threatening post read, “Shaheen Bagh, Game Over”, referring to a massive protest against the citizenship law taken up by women and children.

“We were standing near the barricades when suddenly this outsider, whom none of us recognised, tried to disturb the peace of the march. He marches forward with a revolver in his hand. We were all trying to stop him and calm him down. The policemen were standing there. We tried to approach them to stop that guy. But they just kept standing there simply. When we tried to take the revolver from his hand, he shot one of our friends,” Jamia student Aamna Asif, who witnessed the terrifying incident, told NDTV.

“He was definitely not one of us. He was from outside,” she added.

The student who was shot at has been identified as Shadab Farooq and was seen being taken away, as he walked with his left hand in blood. He has been taken to the trauma centre of the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The locality has been heavily barricaded after the firing and traffic has been diverted from all the roads near the area.


Shadab Farooq, the injured student, is helped after an unidentified man opened fire during a protest against the new citizenship law outside Jamia Millia Islamia. (Reuters)

Violence broke out at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university last month during a protest against the citizenship law; the police were accused of using excessive force on students. Earlier this month, masked goons attacked students and teachers at JNU, triggering nationwide outrage and protests.

Today, hundreds of women protesting at Shaheen Bagh, not far from Jamia, for around six weeks were denied permission by Delhi Police to take out a march from Jamia Millia Islamia to Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial. The protesters said that they had planned a peaceful march to the Rajghat on the death anniversary of the Mahatma Gandhi.

The firing took place days after Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur urged a crowd at an election rally in Delhi to say “goli maaro” – or shoot down traitors.

Thousands, including students in multiple cities and towns across the country, have taken to the streets since last month to protest the new citizenship law that they say discriminates against the minority Muslim community.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, for the first time, makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.


Ex-JNU student Sharjeel Imam remarks do not constitute a crime and FIRs must be quashed, writes Markandey Katju

  • Sharjeel Imam came to the limelight on Sunday during the ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh
  • He allegedly delivered inflammatory speeches against the CAA and NRC
  • The police of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Assam have registered FIRs against him on sedition charges, and are seeking his custody

Sharjeel Imam, a former student of Jawaharlal Nehru University, gave a speech on 16 January in Aligarh during an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest meeting, asking people to cut Assam and the North East off from the rest of India. Consequently, the police forces of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Assam have registered FIRs against him on sedition charges, and are seeking his custody.

But has he committed any crime ?

To recap, Sharjeel came to the limelight on Sunday during the ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh, for allegedly delivering inflammatory speeches against the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens. The Delhi Police was quoted as saying, “[Sharjeel] had previously delivered one such speech in Jamia Millia Islamia on 13 December last year and thereafter one even more inflammatory against the government which is being widely circulated on social media.”

The cops went on to add that the speeches had the “potential to harm the religious harmony” and the unity and integrity of India, for which the case was registered against him.

However, I submit he has not committed a crime. In Brandenburg versus Ohio, 395 US 444 (1969), the Supreme Court of the US held, “The constitutional guarantee of free speech does not permit a state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

 Ex-JNU student Sharjeel Imam remarks do not constitute a crime and FIRs must be quashed, writes Markandey Katju

File image of Sharjeel Imam. Twitter @MilitaryUpdate_

This decision has stood the test of time, and is the law of the land in the US ever since. It was followed by two decisions of the Supreme Court of India in Arup Bhuyan versus State of Assam and Sri Indra Das versus State of Assam (both in 2011), and therefore is the law of the land in India too.

Accordingly, inflammatory speech is also protected by the Freedom of Speech guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution — unless it incites or produces imminent lawless action.

I disapprove of Sharjeel’s speech, and I am against the cutting-off  of Assam or the any part of the rest of the North East from India. However, I do not see how his speech would incite or produce imminent lawless action. The word ‘imminent’ in the Brandenburg test is extremely important. It stresses on the time element, and makes more defined and more rigorous Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ ‘clear and present danger’ test laid down in Schenck versus US, (1919) — Holmes’ test had replaced the vague ‘bad tendency test’ employed previously.

Therefore, I am of the opinion that Sharjeel Imam committed no crime and the FIRs against him deserve to be quashed by the high court under Article 226 of the Constitution or Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

In my opinion, applying the Brandenburg test, the prosecution against the Bhima Koregaon-accused Professor Saibaba of Delhi University, Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Sajjad Lone, Syed Ahmed Shah Gilani, Shah Faesal and other political figures also deserves to be quashed. None of these persons in detention said anything that incited or produced imminent lawless action.

The author is a former judge, Supreme Court of India

Human Rights

300 signatories including Naseeruddin Shah, Mira Nair issue open letter opposing CAA, NRC

Naseeruddin Shah, Mira NairRatna Pathak Shah, Jaaved Jafferi vocalist TM Krishna, author Amitav Ghosh, historian Romila Thapar and 300 other signatories have extended support to students protesting against CAA-NRC with anopen letter published on Indian Cultural Forum. They have expressed their solidarity with the students protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and against the National Register of Citizens (NRC).According to PTI, the open letter states that the signatories stand in solidarity with the students and others who are protesting and speaking out against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and against the National Register of Citizens (NRC), also saluting the collective cry for upholding the principles of the Constitution of India. Stating that they are ending their silence, the open letter also stated that they will stand with those who stand for democracy.

“We stand in solidarity with the students and others who are protesting and speaking out against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and against the National Register of Citizens (NRC). We salute their collective cry for upholding the principles of the Constitution of India, with its promise of a plural and diverse society. We are aware that we have not always lived up to that promise, and many of us have too often remained silent in the face of injustice. The gravity of this moment demands that each of us stand for our principles. The policies and actions of the present government, passed quickly through parliament and without opportunity for public dissent or open discussion, are antithetical to the principle of a secular, inclusive nation. The soul of the nation is threatened. The livelihoods and statehoods of millions of our fellow Indians are at stake. Under the NRC, anyone unable to produce documentation (which, in many cases, does not exist) to prove their ancestry may be rendered stateless. Those deemed ‘illegal’ through the NRC may be eligible for citizenship under the CAA, unless they are Muslim,” the statement read.

The open letter also criticised police brutality on students at Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University. “The response of the government and law-enforcement agencies to the distress of its citizens has been callous and high-handed. India has seen the most Internet shutdowns of any democracy in the world. Police brutality has left hundreds injured, including many students from Jamia Milia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University. Several citizens have been killed while protesting. Many more have been placed in preventive detention. Section 144 has been imposed in numerous states to curb protests.”

Earlier, Naseeruddin Shah had sparked a debate when he took a dig at contemporary Anupam Kher for being vocal and also referred t him as a ‘clown’. Anupam Kher hit back at Naseeruddin Shah by posting a video of his answer on Twitter.


Over 32,000 refugees identified in 21 districts for CAA: UP minister

In the first list, over 32,000 refugees have been identified in 21 districts of the state and the exercise is going on in the entire state as per the information I have from the state Home Department, Shrikant Sharma said.


  • UP govt has started process of identifying refugees for CAA
  • Over 32,000 refugees identified in 21 out of 75 UP districts
  • The exercise is going on in the entire state, a UP min said

The state government has started the process to identify refugees for the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, said UP minister Shrikant Sharma here on Monday.

“The notification for the CAA (by the Centre) has been issued and all-district magistrates in UP have been asked to collect data,” Sharma told PTI.

In the first list, over 32,000 refugees have been identified in 21 districts of the state and the exercise is going on in the entire state as per the information I have from the state Home Department, Shrikant Sharma added.

There are 75 districts in the state.

When asked about the countries they belong to, Sharma said, “They are from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.”

The districts from where the first list has arrived included Saharanpur, Gorakhpur, Aligarh, Rampur, Pratapgarh, Pilibhit, Lucknow, Varanasi, Bahraich, Lakhimpur, Rampur, Meerut, Agra.

Sources said Pilibhit has the maximum number of refugees. However, the exact number is yet to be disclosed by the state government.

“The exercise is going on and as the data comes, we will update figures,” Sharma said.

An NGO, Nagrik Adhikar Manch, has also prepared a 116-page report, “Uttar Pradesh Mein Aaye Pakistan, Afghanistan Evam Bangladesh ke Sharnarthiyon ki Aapbeeti (Unke Utpeedan ki Kahani)” and sent it to the state and the Centre.

The state government has not confirmed whether it was taking the report into account or not.

“We have got the report of the Nagrik Adhikar Manch,” a senior Home Department official said, who refused to elaborate.

The Centre last week had issued a gazette notification announcing that the CAA has come into effect from January 10, 2020.

The Act grants citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (47 of 2019), the Central government hereby appoints the 10th day of January 2020, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force,” the notification said.

The CAA was passed by Parliament on December 11.

According to the legislation, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

There have been widespread protests against the Act in different parts of the country.

In Uttar Pradesh, at least 19 persons were killed in anti-CAA protests.

Human Rights

Innocent, activists face mass arrests, beatings amid unrest over citizenship law

Police officers in Lucknow, India, clash with demonstrators protesting India’s new citizenship law on Dec. 19. (Reuters)
Police officers in Lucknow, India, clash with demonstrators protesting India’s new citizenship law on Dec. 19. (Reuters)

LUCKNOW, India — When Sadaf Jafar headed out with hundreds of others on Dec. 19 to join a demonstration against India’s contentious new citizenship law, she told her children she would be home that evening.

She never made it back.

The 43-year-old actress and activist had been live-streaming video from the protest site, a bustling crossroads in Lucknow, on her Facebook page. But as the rally descended into chaos and Jafar pleaded with police to detain the violent protesters, officers instead grabbed her, the video shows before ending abruptly.

Perturbed by Jafar’s disappearance, a family friend and fellow actor, Deepak Kabir, went to a police station to inquire about her whereabouts. But he also did not return. Both are now in jail and under investigation for attempted murder and assault of public servants, according to police documents reviewed by The Washington Post. Two other prominent activists, S.R. Darapuri and Mohammad Shoaib, both in their 70s, were detained before the protest and are also in jail.

They are among 5,500 people seized by police in Uttar Pradesh state alone in recent weeks in an intensifying clampdown on dissent. Twenty-four people have been killed in protests across India, 19 of them in Uttar Pradesh. Police deny accusations that they fired on protesters, detained people arbitrarily, ransacked homes and beat women and children. On Friday, authorities shut down Internet access in about a quarter of the state.

Human Rights Watch said police used “deadly force” against protesters.

“It’s been harrowing,” said Jafar’s sister, Naheed Verma. “It’s clear that we’re heading towards a police state.”

P.V. Rama Shastri, a senior police official, said it would be inappropriate to comment on Jafar’s case because the matter was before the courts.

The turmoil stems from India’s approval this month of a law that makes religion a criterion for nationality, a step critics and protesters say undermines India’s founding secular ethos and moves the country closer to becoming a Hindu nation under Narendra Modi, the stridently nationalist prime minister.

The law creates an expedited path to citizenship for immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan but excludes Muslims — the key point of contention in a nation whose 200 million Muslims account for almost one-sixth of the population. Modi defended the law, saying his government has never discriminated on the basis of religion.

The targeting of activists who have spoken out against the measure is intended to “send a chilling message to everyone,” said Yogendra Yadav, an activist and political scientist. “If they [Jafar and Kabir] can be picked up, is anyone safe?”

Jafar, a single mother of two, had recently finished work on a film directed by the internationally acclaimed director Mira Nair.

Demonstrators throw stones during a protest in Lucknow on Dec. 19. Authorities have moved to crush unrest stemming from India’s approval of a contentious citizenship law. (Reuters)
Demonstrators throw stones during a protest in Lucknow on Dec. 19. Authorities have moved to crush unrest stemming from India’s approval of a contentious citizenship law. (Reuters)

Since Modi’s resounding reelection in May, his second term has been marked by a focus on long-standing demands of Hindu nationalists, which opponents say is a distraction from an economic slowdown and the highest unemployment in decades.

In August, the government revoked the autonomy and statehood of India’s only Muslim-majority state — Jammu and Kashmir — and implemented a crackdown. Last month, the Supreme Court allowed a Hindu temple to be built at the site of a 16th-century mosque that Hindu extremists, led by senior figures in Modi’s party, razed illegally in the 1990s.

Uttar Pradesh, in India’s northern heartland, is one of the poorest states and home to large numbers of Hindus and Muslims. Ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, its chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, is a firebrand Hindu monk who has previously called on his followers to kill Muslims and declared that the state would exact revenge on violent protesters.

Although people from all faiths have participated in this month’s demonstrations, critics say the state’s police have especially targeted Muslims, raising concerns about religious profiling. Nearly all who have been killed or detained are Muslims. A fact-finding team of activists that visited the state accused police of a “reign of terror” and “brazenly targeting” Muslims and activists.

In Bijnor, a district in western Uttar Pradesh where two people died of gunshot wounds during recent protests, there is widespread fear and shock among Muslim residents, many of whom have fled.

Arshad Hussain, 46, a tailor, said his son, Anas, stepped out to buy milk when a bullet hit him in the eye, barely 30 yards from his house. “Everyone standing around said he was hit by police firing,” he said. “He has a 7-month-old son. His wife is devastated.”

Sanjeev Tyagi, the local police superintendent, said there was no order to open fire at the crowd and denied Anas was killed by police. He acknowledged, however, that a 20-year-old student from the locality was killed when a constable fired in self-defense.

In the same neighborhood, Mohammad Imran watched from a neighbor’s terrace as a dozen police officers barged into his house. “I was so scared that I couldn’t dare to do anything,” he said, describing how the officers beat his 62-year-old, paralyzed father and dragged him away. “I learned yesterday that he was sent to jail.”

Tyagi denied police were carrying out arbitrary arrests. The “police’s job is like a surgeon, and if there is a problem, we have to do a surgery to solve the problem,” he said.

Police officers detain a protester Dec. 19 in Lucknow. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP)
Police officers detain a protester Dec. 19 in Lucknow. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP)

In Lucknow, the state’s capital, the police face allegations of vandalism and beating women and children.

On Dec. 19, Tabassum Raza, 26, heard loud noises in the narrow lane outside her house in the Hussainabad neighborhood. She peeked through the metal door and saw dozens of police officers chasing young men. Within minutes, officers were inside her home, having broken in through a wooden window that hangs limp from its frame.

“It was mayhem,” she said. “Someone threw down the fridge, another snatched my phone. They were lashing their sticks, sparing nothing and no one.”

Raza has purple bruises on her right arm and both thighs from the beating. Raza’s sister-in-law, Shahana Parveen, 29, lowered her pants to show dark bruises on her right hip. Her 10-year-old nephew was left with a black bruise at the back of his knee.

The police officers, Raza said, repeatedly asked them to give the names of the men in their house. The two women pleaded with the police, but the “rampage” went on for nearly 40 minutes, she said. A video shot by her cousin after the police left shows a trashed room with belongings strewn across the floor.

Shahana Parveen of Lucknow shows bruises she says came from police who broke into her home and beat her with sticks. (Niha Masih/The Washington Post)
Shahana Parveen of Lucknow shows bruises she says came from police who broke into her home and beat her with sticks. (Niha Masih/The Washington Post)

Shastri, the state police official, said that there is a process for public grievances and that if anyone complains to the police, the law would be followed. “On the basis of the account of an accused or their kin, it may not be fair to come to any conclusion,” he said.

The anger and division sweeping the country has spilled into unlikely places. At a court in Lucknow on Dec. 20, several lawyers assaulted nine detained protesters as they were brought into the chamber, local media reported.

Navigating the corridors of another ramshackle court building, Verma, Jafar’s sister, said her arrest has left the family traumatized. A lower court rejected Jafar’s bail application, meaning she must spend at least another week behind bars before the court reopens in the new year.

“The highhandedness of the police and disregard for civil rights is appalling,” Verma said. “We have protested under multiple governments but never faced this.”

Tania Dutta in New Delhi and Asad Rizvi in Lucknow contributed to this report.

Human Rights

India National Population Register: Database agreed amid protests

Ramachandra Guha, noted social scientist opposed CAA detained in Bengaluru

The Indian cabinet has approved funds for a census and a population survey to be held next year despite weeks of protests over a citizenship law that critics say is anti-Muslim.

Authorities say the updated National Population Register (NPR) will be a comprehensive list of all residents.

However, critics say it will be a list from which “doubtful citizens” will be asked to prove they are Indian.

More than 20 people have died in protests over the citizenship law.

What is the NPR?

Authorities say the aim of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every “usual resident” of the country.

A “usual resident” is a person who has lived in an area for at least six months or a person who plans to live in an area for the next six months or more. This means foreigners living in India would be included in the NPR.

After Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, minister Prakash Javadekar said the government had allocated 39.4bn rupees ($553m; £427m) for the NPR and that it would be updated between April and September 2020.

Meanwhile, another 87.54bn rupees will be spent on the census, which will collect data on population, economic activity, migration and demography, among other things.

Mr Javadekar said the first NPR was created in 2010 and was updated in 2015.

He said better data would help the government formulate improved policies.

Media captionAnti-citizenship law protests spread across Indian cities

Critics say the NPR is the first step towards the creation of a controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC) that is being championed by the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, but the government has denied this.

The NRC has already been implemented in the north-eastern state of Assam.

People in the state had to prove that they moved there before 24 March 1971, a day before neighbouring Bangladesh became an independent country. The exercise left nearly two million people people off the register.

The authorities have not yet clarified what documents would be needed for the NRC in the rest of India.

What is the controversial citizenship law?

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed earlier this month. Critics say it targets India’s 200 million plus Muslims.

The law offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and the government says it has been brought in to protect religious minorities fleeing persecution.

The move has drawn criticism from opposition parties and international rights groups which say it’s discriminatory and undermines India’s secular constitution.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defended the legislation and insisted that India’s Muslims “don’t need to worry” about the law.

Protesters have continued to take to the streets in spite of police bans and internet shutdowns across the country.

How large have the protests been?

On Tuesday, thousands held another protest march in the capital, Delhi, even though police imposed a law preventing people from gathering.

The opposition Congress party leaders, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, were turned back from reaching the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where 16 people have died in protests in the past few days. They were on their way to meet a victim’s family.

Over the past two weeks, hundreds of thousands have swarmed the streets in the southern cities of Bangalore and Chennai (formerly Madras). At the weekend, nearly 300,000 people held a protest march in the northern city of Jaipur.

In some places, the protests have turned violent, especially in Delhi and in Uttar Pradesh, where clashes with police have left hundreds injured and many detained.

In the eastern city of Kolkata, tens of thousands of people joined a demonstration led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee last week.

In the past few days, there have also been some demonstrations in support of the citizenship law.

The protests in Assam – the first in the country after the bill was passed – have little to do with concerns about the exclusionary nature of the law and the threat to secularism.

They have more to do with indigenous fears about being demographically and culturally swamped by “outsiders”.

Media captionThe BBC speaks to a man who says Indian police shot him as he was passing by a protest
BBC Report
Human Rights

Missing from India’s citizenship law: 100,000 Sri Lankan refugees

Missing from India’s citizenship law: 100,000 Sri Lankan refugees

Nearly 100,000 Sri Lankan refugees living in India are not eligible for citizenship under a new law, sparking concerns they may be forced to return to the island nation they fled during a decades-long civil war, many with no homes to return to.

A Sri Lankan Tamil refugee cleans utensils outside her house in a refugee camp in Perambalur district, about 250km from Chennai [File: Nathan G/EPA]

A Sri Lankan Tamil refugee cleans utensils outside her house in a refugee camp in Perambalur district, about 250km from Chennai [File: Nathan G/EPA]

India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) aims to fast-track citizenship for persecuted Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, from Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The law excludes nearly 100,000 Sri Lanka‘s Tamils, an ethnic minority, who live in India, including about 60,000 in camps in southern Tamil Nadu state, according to the home department.

Most of these refugees are Hindu or Christian, whose forefathers were born in India, said S Velayutham, an advocacy officer at the non-profit Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation in the southern city of Chennai.

“Many were sent by the British as indentured labourers on Sri Lankan tea plantations, and hoped for a better life in India when they came here during the war,” he said.

“Some 25,000 children were also born in the camps. They do not know any country but India, but now they may have no choice but to go to Sri Lanka,” he told Reuters news agency.

A Tamil Nadu government official who oversees Sri Lankan refugees in the state did not return calls seeking comment.

Tamil refugees
A Sri Lankan Tamil refugee takes water from a hand pump outside a common toilet in a refugee camp at Thuraimangalam in Tamil Nadu’s Perambalur district [File: Nathan G/EPA]

‘Extremely disturbing’

Earlier, state government officials said Home Minister Amit Shah had promised Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami he would consider the issue of Tamil refugees excluded from CAA.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a rally on Sunday, said the government has introduced reforms without any religious bias.

Thousands of people were killed in Sri Lanka’s civil war, which ended in May 2009 after nearly three decades.

Tens of thousands fled, or were forced from their homes in the country’s north and east, and many sought refuge in neighbouring India, particularly in Tamil Nadu.

While many of them would like to return to Sri Lanka, repatriation has been slow because there is scant assurance on homes and jobs, human rights groups said. Many had their properties seized during the war.

In Tamil Nadu, the refugees get free education, healthcare, rations and a modest allowance but they have limited access to jobs and cannot get official documents.

The decision to exclude some marginalised groups from the CAA is “extremely disturbing”, said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at advocacy group Human Rights Watch, calling on the government to revoke the CAA.

Thousands of Indians have taken to the streets to protest the new law, as well as plans for a National Register of Citizens (NRC), with at least 25 people killed in clashes with police in the biggest challenge to Modi’s leadership since 2014.