An unidentified man brandishes a gun during a protest against a new citizenship law outside the Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, India, January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
An unidentified man fired at a protest against India’s new citizenship law near a university in Delhi on Thursday, wounding one person, witnesses said, the first such incident in the capital city during more than a month of demonstrations. Witnesses said the man holding a gun shouted slogans against the protesters near Jamia Millia Islamia University, before firing at them. “The police stood nearby,” Ahmed Zahir, a witness, told Reuters.
A Reuters photograph showed the man, dressed in a black jacket and brandishing a single-barrel weapon, standing meters away from dozens of policemen deployed outside the university, where protesters had gathered for a march. Police said they had subsequently detained the gunman.
Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, which fast-tracks Indian citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from three neighboring countries, have flared since last December. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government insists the law is required to help persecuted minorities who fled to India before 2015 from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
But protesters insist the law, and a proposed national register for citizens, discriminates against the country’s Muslim minority and violates India’s secular constitution. In recent days, leaders from Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have called for action against the protesters, who they term as unpatriotic.
This week, India’s junior finance minister Anurag Thakur encouraged supporters at a state election rally in New Delhi to chant slogans calling for traitors to be shot, drawing a reprimand from the country’s election commission.