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12 Dec 2019 | 10:50 AM UTC

India: Clashes between anti-CAB protesters and police leave at least two dead December 12 /update 5

Clashes between anti-Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) protesters and police leave at least two dead and 11 others wounded by gunfire in Assam state as of December 12; further protests, clashes to be expected over near term

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IND

Event

Clashes between anti-Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) protesters and police have left at least two people dead and 11 others wounded by gunfire as of Thursday, December 12, as some demonstrators in the state, which borders Bangladesh, assert that the move would encourage a deluge of immigrants to Assam and others denounced its exclusion of Muslims. Police in Guwahati (Assam state) reportedly fired tear gas and bullets at some hundreds of demonstrators who had defied a police-imposed curfew.

Authorities had implemented an indefinite curfew in Guwahati (Assam state) curfew as of 18:15 on Wednesday, December 11, and suspended internet services for 24 hours from 19:00 in Lakhimpur, Tinsukia, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, and Kamrup districts following violent protests. Local media outlets have reported heavy police blockades throughout Guwahati. Authorities additionally suspended internet services in Tripura state for 48 hours since 14:00 on Tuesday, December 10; the army has been deployed to the state.

Several domestic airlines announced flight cancelations to and from several airports in Assam on Thursday following government orders. Airline representatives anticipate disruptions through Sunday, December 15. The Northeast Frontier Railway suspended rail operations in Assam and Tripura states as of Wednesday and ordered all long-distance trains to terminate early in Guwahati. At least 31 trains had either been canceled or diverted as of Thursday morning.

A heightened security presence and localized telecommunications, transportation, and business disruptions are to be expected across Assam state over the coming hours and days. Further protests are likely, including in other states across India; clashes between protesters and police cannot be ruled out.

Context

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), which seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, was originally introduced in 2016. It was tabled, however, due to widespread protests denouncing the legislation. Opponents claim the legislation is in violation of the constitution, which prohibits religious discrimination against citizens.

The Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) passed the CAB legislation on December 9, while the Rajya Sabha (upper house of parliament) passed the bill on December 11.

Advice

Individuals in Assam state are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations, prepare for transportation and business disruptions, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.