The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Israel issued travel advisories for India after protests against recent amendments to the Citizenship Act in northeastern states.
In an advisory on the website of its New Delhi embassy, the United States urged its citizens to exercise caution in the northeastern states. “Government curfews are in place in some areas,” the advisory said. “Internet and mobile communications may be disrupted. Transport may be affected in various parts of the region. Protests have also been reported in other parts of the country.”
The US government also “temporarily suspended official travel to Assam”.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office said in an advisory on Thursday, citing violence, protests and internet shutdowns: “You should exercise caution if you’re planning to travel in North East India, monitor local media for the latest information, follow instructions of the local authorities and allow more time for travel.”
The French foreign ministry urged French citizens to “stay away from any gathering, regularly follow the news and to respect the orders of the Indian authorities (curfew in particular)”, reported the Hindustan Times. The Israeli government asked its citizens not to travel to Assam and to cut short visits to the region.
On Thursday, the United States had urged India to protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with its Constitution and democratic values. “We are closely following developments regarding the Citizenship Amendment Bill,” a spokesperson for the State Department said. “Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law are fundamental principles of our two democracies. The US urges India to protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with India’s Constitution and democratic values.”
The contentious amendments allows citizenship to persecuted people of six communities – but not Muslims – from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014. The amendments were approved by both Houses of Parliament this week and were signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday night.
There is a widespread fear in the North East states that populations defined as indigenous to the region will be culturally and physically overrun by migrants as a result of this law’s provisions. Elsewhere in India, the bill has been opposed due to its allegedly discriminatory view towards Muslims.
Two people were killed during the protests in Guwahati on Thursday.