Bharatiya Janata Party Working President Jagat Prakash Nadda said on Thursday, despite massive protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, that both the act and the National Register of Citizens will be implemented throughout the country. Nadda made the remarks after meeting Sikh refugees from Afghanistan in Delhi.

The Citizenship Amendment Act seeks to provide citizenship to people from six persecuted minority communities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan – but excludes Muslims from its scope. The law, passed by Parliament on December 11, has been decried as anti-Muslim. Protestors in the northeastern states have alleged that it will erode their distinct ethnic identities.

On the other hand, a National Register of Citizens exercise, aimed at differentiating between undocumented migrants and genuine citizens, was carried out in Assam earlier this year. Its final list excluded 19 lakh people, or 6% of the state’s population. Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in Parliament in November that the exercise will be conducted across the country.

On Thursday, Nadda claimed the BJP’s political rivals were protesting against the act for vote bank politics and ignoring the plight of minorities in the three neighbouring countries. “Those who are opposing the citizenship law should meet them,” Nadda told reporters. “These people have been living in India for 28-30 years but can’t admit their children in schools or buy a house as they do not have citizenship. Our rivals cannot see anything beyond their vote bank politics.”

Nadda claimed that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is “marching ahead”. He reiterated that the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens will be implemented across the country.

On December 17, Amit Shah had also remained defiant in the face of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Shah told the Opposition at a rally in Jharkhand that that despite its anger the Centre would do everything in its power to ensure the Act is implemented.

Protests, detentions and blockades

Hundreds of protestors were detained across the country on Thursday. The protests, which first began at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi on Monday, have now spread throughout the country.

On Thursday, the Delhi Police had detained activists Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and Harsh Mander, Left leaders D Raja, Sitaram Yechury, Nilotpal Basu and Brinda Karat, and former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid at different locations in Delhi. Historian Ramchandra Guha was detained in Bengaluru.

In Delhi, prohibitory orders were imposed at the police station areas in Kashmere Gate, Kotwali, and Lahori Gate. The Delhi Police issued an order to block communication of all kinds – voice, SMS and internet – from 9 am to 1 pm in the walled city areas of north and central districts, Mandi House, Seelampur, Jaffrabad, Mustafabad, Jamia Nagar, Shaheen Bagh and Bawana. Some telecom operators also shut down their services briefly following police advice.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has been closing and reopening metro stations throughout the day, providing continuous updates through Twitter.