Alwaght- Violent clashes between Indian police forces and people protesting against a provocative citizenship law have claimed lives of at least six people on Friday, making it the single deadliest day of the latest unrest.
Uttar Pradesh police chief O.P. Singh told Reuters that 32 other people were also wounded in clashes between police and demonstrators on Friday.
The latest deaths bring the death toll to 15 in more than a week of protests.
Singh said none of the deaths on Friday were due to police shooting, adding that 144 people were detained.
However, chief medical officer of Meerut, Rajkumar, who goes by one name, told AFP earlier on Friday that four protesters - two from the district of Meerut and the others from the neighboring district of Muzaffarnagar - were brought to a hospital in Meerut, adding that they died of “gunshot wounds” in the northern state, where nearly 20 percent of India’s 200-million-strong population are Muslim.
A police spokesman also confirmed that one person had died and at least one other had been injured during protests in the city of Firozabad. But he said that the cause of death was not clear yet.
The new deaths came a day after three people lost their lives when police opened fire on protesters in the northern city of Lucknow and Mangalore City in the south of the country.
India has been engulfed by protests since last week, when the country’s parliament passed the citizenship act, which is seen as discriminatory toward Muslims.
Under the law, migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan will be allowed to claim Indian citizenship — but not if they are Muslims.
The heart of India’s capital also witnessed street battles late Friday as police used water cannon and charged at protesters with batons.
A car was set ablaze and demonstrators were injured during the clashes at the Delhi Gate in the Old Delhi district. The battles came as thousands re-gathered at the Delhi Gate following an earlier sit-in in the same area after marching from India’s biggest mosque, Jama Masjid, in the afternoon.
“All the people [are] here, be it those who are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, or Christian — they are all out on the streets,” a protester, Tanvi Gudiya, told AFP at another rally. “So doesn’t it affect [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi at all? Does Modi not like anyone? Why is he becoming like Hitler?”
Meanwhile, Adil Amaan, a lawyer, said 34 people were detained in New Delhi's Daryaganj where about 6,000 people gathered to protest against the legislation.
In Modi’s home state of Gujarat, fresh clashes were also reported between security forces and demonstrators in Vadodara City.