Thousands of supporters participated in Prime Minister Narenda Modi's Hindu nationalist party rally in New Delhi on Sunday, December 22. This rally comes in the wake of mass protests in opposition to the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) passed in Parliament on December 11. Further anti-CAA protests are set to take place on Sunday in New Delhi and across Uttar Pradesh.
Curfew has been relaxed in Mangaluru (Karnataka) from 15:00 to 18:00 (local time) as of Saturday, December 21, and will be removed on Monday, December 23. However section 144, which prohibits the gathering of more than four people, will remain in effect until further notice. The section has also been implemented in Haridwar and remains in effect in Uttar Pradesh and parts of Delhi.
A heightened security presence, and significant transportation, business, and telecommunication disruptions are expected nationwide over the coming hours and days. Further clashes between protesters and police cannot be ruled out.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslim minorities fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Opponents claim that the legislation is in violation of the constitution, which prohibits religious discrimination against citizens. In conjunction with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), activists also 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, including land and tenancy records. The NRC has so far only been implemented in Assam, where more than 1.9 million people failed to qualify as of August and were subsequently put in detention centers. However, on November 20, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the NRC will be implemented nationwide. While the NRC will expose all illegal immigrants, opponents of the CAA argue that the act isolates Muslim Indians as it favors 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.
The Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) passed the CAA legislation on December 9, while the Rajya Sabha (upper house of parliament) passed the bill on December 11. India's Supreme Court refused petitions to halt the implementation of the CAA on December 18. A hearing on the act has been scheduled for January 22. At least 19 people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters 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 transportation, business, and communications disruptions. If a demonstration erupts without warning, individuals are advised not to cross 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).
Individuals present in Delhi are advised to limit movements within the city as much as possible, check road conditions prior to departure, budget for additional time to reach their destination, confirm all flight reservations, and contact their airline for additional information.