Six more protesters were confirmed dead in India Friday amid clashes between police and demonstrators, taking the death toll to 15 in more than a week of unrest triggered by a citizenship law seen as anti-Muslim.
The law which makes it easier for persecuted minorities from three neighbouring countries to gain citizenship, but not if they are Muslim has stoked fears Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to remould the world’s biggest democracy India as a Hindu nation, which he denies.
The latest deaths, in northern Uttar Pradesh where almost 20 percent of the state’s 200-million population are Muslim, followed the loss of three lives on Thursday when police opened fire on protesters in the northern city of Lucknow and the southern city of Mangalore.
Four of the demonstrators two from Meerut and two from neighbouring Muzaffarnagar, both in Uttar Pradesh died Friday from “gunshot wounds”, Meerut chief medical officer Rajkumar told AFP.
Rajkumar, who goes by one name, added that five police officers, including three with bullet wounds, were being treated in hospital.
Another demonstrator died of a gunshot wound in Bijnor district while the cause of the sixth death in Firozabad city was not yet known, local police spokesmen told AFP.