Stop using extreme force against NE protesters: Amnesty

Stop using extreme force against NE protesters: Amnesty

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International India has urged the Centre to immediately order its security forces "to stop using excessive force against protesters" agitating against the amended Citizenship Act in the northeast.

Its executive director Avinash Kumar, in a press statement, said the Centre must ensure that the right to life is protected at all cost.

"The use of excessive force by the security personnel against the protestors will only lead to further alienation of people in the region and escalate the risk of further human rights violations," he said.

He urged both the Centre and state governments to "immediately engage with various sections of the people for a peaceful dialogue and repeal the discriminatory amendments".

"While the Centre denies any form of discrimination but the citizenship amendments clearly weaponise the NRC process against Muslims," Kumar said.

It is difficult to view the amended law in isolation and not look at the larger picture where both the amendments and the NRC may deprive minorities of their citizenship in India, he said.

Kumar added that the amendments also set a "dangerous shift" in the way citizenship would be determined in India. "Worryingly, they also stand to create the biggest statelessness crisis of the world causing immense human suffering," he said.

Under the new law, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

On Thursday, two persons were killed in police firing in Assam to quell protests against the citizenship bill with thousands descending on streets defying curfew.

Several towns and cities were placed under indefinite curfew, including Guwahati, the epicentre of protests, besides Dibrugarh, Tezpur and Dhekiajuli. Night curfew was imposed in Jorhat, Golaghat, Tinsukia and Charaideo districts, officials said.

However, protests against the new Citizenship law showed signs of ebbing away in Assam and elsewhere in the northeast on Friday with relaxation of curfew but parts of neighbouring West Bengal were in throes of violence as agitators vandalised public property and clashed with police.

Curfew was relaxed in Assam's Dibrugarh and Meghalaya capital Shillong, but the ripple effect of anger over the hugely divisive law was felt in West Bengal where Beldanga railway station complex was set ablaze in Murshidabad district and RPF personnel were assaulted.

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