Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday lashed out the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre over the wave of protests against the amended citizenship law that has engulfed India.

The Opposition party expressed concern at the “brute repression unleashed by the Bharatiya Janata Party government against students, youths and citizens across the country”. At least six people have died in Uttar Pradesh till now, and two deaths were reported from the city of Mangaluru in Karnataka on Thursday.

Criticising the ruling party’s “divisive agenda and anti-people policies”, Gandhi said that in a democracy people possess the right to right oppose “wrong decisions and policies of the government, and register their concerns”. “BJP government has shown utter disregard for people’s voices and chosen to use brute force to suppress dissent,” she added.

Gandhi said the Congress was fully committed to standing up and defending the fundamental rights of citizens, and “uphold the foundational values of our Constitution”. The proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens will hurt the poor and vulnerable, the Congress president added.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to persecuted people from six religions – excluding Islam – in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It has been decried as anti-Muslim, and protestors from Northeastern states have alleged that the Act will erode their ethnic identities. There were massive protests against the amended law throughout India on Thursday.

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