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19 Dec 2019 | 07:41 AM UTC

India: Significant disruptions reported in Delhi December 19 due to anti-CAA protests /update 15

Significant traffic disruptions reported in Delhi amid anti-CAA protests December 19; further protests, clashes expected over the near term nationwide

legal
security
transportation
IND

Event

Significant transportation, telecommunication, and business disruptions have been reported in Delhi amid anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in the afternoon (local time) of Thursday, December 19.

As of 16:00, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has reportedly closed 19 metro stations, including the Janpath, Barakhamba, Vasant Vihar, Mandi House, Patel Chowk, Lok Kalyan Marg, Udyog Bhawan, ITO, Pragati Maidan, Khan Market, Lal Quila, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, Vishwavidyalaya, Jamia Millia Islamia, Jasola Vihar Shaheen Bagh, and Munirka stations. At the Rajiv Chowk and Central Secretariat stations, interchange is still available despite closure.

Significant traffic jams have been reported across the city, including on the NH-8 road, Sirhaul toll plaza, and the Aya Nagar and Kapashera borders as authorities closed state borders. Road closures have also been reported on the No.13A road between Mathura Road and Kalindi Kunj. In the neighboring Haryana state, Guruguram's police authorities have warned against all non-essential travel to Delhi at around 11:00.

Traffic disruptions have prompted the cancelation of at least 19 IndiGo operated flights and delayed 16 others at the Indira-Ghandi Airport (DEL). Vistra, Air India, and Indigo airlines have announced flight arrangements will be made for passengers unable to reach the airport due to ongoing protests.

State authorities have ordered several telecommunications companies in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh to suspend all types of communication including voice, SMS, and data from 09:00 to 13:00. Posts circulating on social media indicate that these communication suspensions were still ongoing as of 16:40 on Thursday. It is not clear when the services will be restored.

State officials have also implemented section 144, which prohibits the gathering of more than four people, in Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, and parts of Delhi.

Protests were also reported in several cities countrywide, including Hyderabad (Telangana), Bengaluru (Karnataka), Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), Mumbai (Maharastra), Kolkata (West Bengal), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), where police reportedly fired tear gas and arrested several protesters around the Parivartan Chowk after vehicles were torched outside the Satkhanda police outpost.

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.

Context

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 - in particular 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. Nationwide protests opposing the CAA began on December 10; security forces have killed at least six protesters as of December 15. 

Advice

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 erupt 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.