India citizenship law protests, 18 dead

The death toll from India’s protests against the controversial new citizenship law has risen to 18 after 10 people were killed in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s largest and most populous state on Friday.

Nine of the people died of gunshot wounds and the 10th victim was a child who died in the city of Varasani after being struck with a stone, according to Shirish Chand, an Uttar Pradesh police spokesman.

Three people were killed in protests in the cities of Mangalore and Lucknow on Thursday. Last week, five people died in north-eastern Assam state when protests there first erupted.

The law in question promises to fast-track citizenship for several religious minorities — but not Muslims.

People have taken to the streets across India in response to the new rules, which was passed into law last week, despite a ban on public gatherings in various regions now in place.

Following Thursday’s violence, police in Uttar Pradesh have enforced a law banning public gatherings of four or more people for the next 15 days.

The colonial-era restrictions — known as Section 144 — were going to be imposed across the entire state, Avnish Awasthi, senior official in the Uttar Pradesh Home Department, told CNN.

Internet services in the state capital Lucknow will also remain suspended until Saturday evening, after protesters set fire to buildings and clashed with police on Thursday.

“Yesterday, internet connectivity in 73 districts was shut down,” Awasthi said. “For the rest of the districts in the states, district officials are making individual decisions.”

In the capital New Delhi, section 144 remained in place in three key protest areas Friday, police said.