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Indian state imposes lockdown after deadly protests

Security drones buzzed over western Uttar Pradesh, where protests turned violent after last week’s Friday prayers.

Indian policemen stand guard at Hazratganj market in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh state, India, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. Violent protests against India’s citizenship law that excludes Muslim immigrants have swept the country over the weekend despite the government’s ban on public assembly and suspension of internet services in many parts. More than twenty people have been killed in protests nationwide and most of the deaths have occurred in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where 20% of the state’s 200 million people are Muslim. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
Indian policemen stand guard at Hazratganj market in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh state, India, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. Violent protests against India’s citizenship law that excludes Muslim immigrants have swept the country over the weekend despite the government’s ban on public assembly and suspension of internet services in many parts. More than twenty people have been killed in protests nationwide and most of the deaths have occurred in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where 20% of the state’s 200 million people are Muslim. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

By Associated Press Reporters

Paramilitary and police forces have been deployed and the internet shut down in Muslim-majority districts in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which has experienced the highest death toll in nationwide protests against a new citizenship law that excludes Muslims.

Security drones buzzed over western Uttar Pradesh, where protests turned violent after last week’s Friday prayers.

In the national capital, hundreds of people gathered after prayers at one of India’s largest mosques in Old Delhi, where a protest march a week ago ended in violence after a car was set on fire in front of a police station.

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Protests in New Delhi (Altaf Qadri/AP)

Delhi police dispatched officers and a water cannon to an Uttar Pradesh state government building in the capital where a rally was planned for Friday afternoon.

Twenty-three people have been killed nationwide since the citizenship law was passed in parliament earlier this month in protests that represent the first major obstacle for prime minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda since his party’s landslide re-election earlier this year.

Sixteen deaths occurred in Uttar Pradesh, according to state government spokesman Awanish Awasthi. Muslims account for 20% of the state’s 200 million people.

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Narendra Modi (AP)

The state government is controlled by Mr Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party. Government officials have repeatedly said security forces have not killed anyone.

Mr Modi has defended the citizenship law and accused the opposition of pushing the country into a “fear psychosis”.

The law allows Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities who are in India illegally to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted because of their religion in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It does not apply to Muslims.

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to India’s streets to call for the revocation of the law.

PA

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