Two persons were found dead in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills district on Wednesday after a protest rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act called by the Khasi Students’ Union in Ichamati, reported The Shillong Times.

The police said that the bodies of Esan Sing and Sujit Dutta, both non-tribals, were found in Ichamati and Dalda, which are close to Meghalaya’s border with Bangladesh and fall under the Shella Assembly constituency.

Officials were quoted by The Hindu as saying that stones were found near both the bodies.

East Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police Rituraj Ravi told reporters on Wednesday that a post-mortem was yet to be conducted. “Additional police teams from Shillong have been sent to the site,” he said.

East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner SC Sadhu said they were trying to verify if the deaths were connected to the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act rally and that a magisterial inquiry has been ordered.

Ichamati is a scheduled area beyond the jurisdiction of the Citizenship Amendment Act.

The Citizenship Amendment Act provides a fast track to Indian citizenship for refugees from six minority religious communities, except Muslims, from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and have entered the country by December 31, 2014. Passed by Parliament in December 2019, the Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. It had sparked massive protests across the country in 2019 and 2020.

In February 2020, 35-year-old Lurshai Hynniewta was killed as clashes broke out between Khasi Students Union members and non-tribal groups in Ichamati after a meeting called by the union to discuss the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the Inner Line Permit.

The Inner Line Permit, a document required by foreigners or non-local Indian citizens to enter places designated “protected areas”, is a long-standing demand of tribal groups in Meghalaya. In the North East, it currently applies to Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and most of Nagaland.

While protests against the Act across India have revolved around the law’s alleged anti-Muslim bias, ethnic groups in the North East fear that they will be physically and culturally swamped by migrants from Bangladesh as a result of the law.

The rules of the Act were notified earlier this month. Most tribal areas in the North East have been kept out of its purview.