India’s opposition parties meet president over citizenship row

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NEW DELHI, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) — India’s Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi Tuesday led a delegation of opposition parties and met the country’s President Ram Nath Kovind over the ongoing row triggered by controversial new citizenship law, officials said.

The delegation presented a memorandum to the president urging him to advise government to withdraw the new law.

The meeting comes amid fresh violent protests in Seelampur area of Delhi, the capital of India. The police fired tear smoke shells and used batons to control the crowd, who resorted to throwing stones and set some vehicles on fire.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday accused the opposition Congress party of spreading lies over the new citizenship law while addressing an election rally in India’s eastern state of Jharkhand. Local elections are underway in the state.

Massive protests are going on across several Indian states, especially inside universities, against the new citizenship law.

Last week, Indian parliament passed the controversial new citizenship law. The law aims at granting citizenship to illegal immigrants belonging to six religions — Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Parsi and Christianity — from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, it has kept out Muslim immigrants from applying for citizenship.

Opposition parties and civil society members in India criticize the bill as contrary to secular principles enshrined in India’s constitution.

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