Rights body Amnesty India has slammed the government for “excessive” use of force on the civilians protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.
Responding to the recent clashes between security forces and civilians, leading to the death of civilians in Guwahati, Assam after police opened fire, Amnesty India said that the government used “lethal force against the protesters”.
Amnesty India’s Executive Director, Avinash Kumar in a statement released to the media said, “As massive protests against the amendments in the Citizenship Act continue unabated in at least many Northeast states of India, the Government of India must immediately order security forces to stop using excessive, including lethal force against protesters. It must ensure that the right to life is protected at all costs.”
The government’s response to the protests in the region has included imposition of curfew, shutdown of internet services and detention of human rights activists. “While authorities have a duty to protect the safety of people, they also have an obligation to respect and protect human rights. Blanket and indefinite suspension of internet services do not meet international human rights standards. These shutdowns affect the ability of internet users to seek, receive, and impart information, which is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression,” the right’s body said.
“These measures will only lead to further alienation of people in the region and escalate the risk of further human rights violations. Amnesty India calls upon the Government of India to lift the suspension. It urges both the centre and state governments to immediately engage with various sections of the people for a peaceful dialogue and repeal the discriminatory amendments,” said Avinash Kumar.
Assam, Tripura and several other parts of Northeast witnessed violence in the past few days. The new Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 provides for speeding up the process for Indian citizenship to six non-Muslim communities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – facing religious persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and having sought shelter in India as of December 31, 2014.
As per the act, such communities will not be treated as illegal immigrants now and be given Indian citizenship.