India Government Shuts Down Internet Following Protests Over Citizenship

The Indian government cut off Internet in the northeastern part of Guwahati on Friday as thousands gathered for fresh protests against a new citizenship law, a day after police shot dead two demonstrators.

Protests erupted this week after the government introduced new legislation that many in the far-flung northeast believe will give citizenship to immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, and which other critics say is anti-Muslim.

On Friday morning thousands gathered in central Guwahati as riot police looked on, with residents hurrying out to buy essentials.

No fresh violence was reported but Guwahati and other areas remained littered from the detritus of recent days, with some roads blocked by fallen trees, concrete poles, stones and iron railings.

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A local government official said that internet access in the Guwahati, the main city of Assam state, had been cut and an AFP reporter confirmed that connections appeared to have been suspended.

The Meghalaya state government has also cut off mobile internet, with parts of the capital Shillong brought under curfew since Thursday evening.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was planning to scrap a visit to the city due to begin on Sunday as the security situation deteriorated, media reported Friday. The Japanese leader had been slated to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On Thursday, police had fired live and blank rounds as thousands of demonstrators in Guwahati and elsewhere took to the streets, some vandalising property and torching vehicles.

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The two demonstrators killed in the city were among around 20 people being treated in hospital, “a few” of whom had gunshot wounds, said Ramen Talukdar, a doctor at a Guwahati hospital.

Hundreds of passengers stuck at Guwahati airport were brought to the city on government buses with police escort in the early hours of Friday morning.

Source: AFP

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