Police were pelted with stones by students in India today after they were locked in a college to stop them protesting against a new ‘anti-Muslim’ migration law.
Riot police locked the gates of an Islamic university in the northern city of Lucknow to stop furious students taking to the streets for a fifth day of demonstrations.
Six people have already died, including four shot by police, in the protests that erupted last Wednesday when the Hindu nationalist government passed laws to grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants – but not if they are Muslim.
Anger was further fuelled by allegations of police brutality at Jamia Millia Islamia university in the capital New Delhi on Sunday when officers fired tear gas to break up a protest. At least 100 people were wounded.
There were similar scenes at the Aligarh Muslim University in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where police also clashed with protesters.
Today students at the Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama university threw stones at police after they locked the gates. About two dozen students at another college in the city sneaked out to protest.
Troops continued to patrol the streets of Guwahati, the biggest city in the state of Assam, where four people have been shot by police during demonstrations.
Another was killed when a shop he was sleeping in was set on fire and a sixth after he was beaten up during a protest, officials said.
Around 5,000 defiant protesters took part in another demonstration in the city on Sunday where they sang, chanted and carried banners with the words ‘long live Assam’ as hundreds of police watched.
The new migration law states that religious minorities such as Hindus and Christians in neighbouring Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who have settled in India prior to 2015 will have a path to citizenship on grounds they faced persecution in those countries.
But Muslims are not given the same rights.
Najma Akhtar, the head of Jamia Millia, demanded an investigation into how police were allowed to enter the campus.
He said: ‘It is not expected of the police to enter the university and beat up students.’
Students said they hid under desks and switched off the lights as police fired tear gas and windows were broken in the library.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the New Delhi police headquarters to protest against alleged police brutality and the detention of students. Police said they acted with restraint.
Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the main opposition Congress party, urged protesters to remain peaceful.
‘The best defence against these dirty weapons is peaceful, non-violent Satyagraha,’ he said in a tweet referring to the strategy of passive political resistance advocated by independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.
The most violent protests during the past few days took place in the northeastern state of Assam, where mobs torched buildings and a train station.
Protests were held in Mumbai’s Indian Institute of Technology and Tata Institute of Social Sciences overnight and on Monday and more were planned at Bombay University and in the southern city of Bengaluru later in the day.
Some Bollywood celebrities like actress Konkona Sen Sharma, and directors Mahesh Bhatt and Anubhav Sinha, also criticized the police action on Twitter and called on others to speak up.
‘We are with the students! Shame on you @DelhiPolice,’ Sen Sharma tweeted.
Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party denies any religious bias. It says the new law is meant to help minority groups facing persecution in the three nearby Muslim countries.
Modi has said the law has been passed by parliament and there is no going back on it. He told a rally on Sunday the decision was ‘1000 percent correct’.