India News - Nine more lives lost in raging India protests

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - VIOLENT DEMONSTRATION: A motorbike burns after being set on fire by anti-CAA demonstrations in Kanpur. - AFP

Around a dozen vehicles were set on fire as protesters went amok in the northern cities of Rampur, Sambhal, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnore and Kanpur.

Nine people died on Saturday during clashes between demonstrators and police in northern India, raising the nationwide death toll in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act to 23, police said.

Uttar Pradesh state police spokesman Pravin Kumar Singh said the nine fatalities increased the death toll in the state to 15 in the protests against the new law, which the demonstrators say discriminates against Muslims. The "majority of the dead are young people", Singh said. "Some of them died of bullet injuries, but these injuries are not because of police fire. The police have used only teargas to scare away the agitating mob."

Around a dozen vehicles were set on fire as protesters went amok in the northern cities of Rampur, Sambhal, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnore and Kanpur, where a police station was also torched, Singh said.

The ongoing backlash against the law marks the strongest show of dissent against the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he was first elected in 2014.

The law allows Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities who are in India illegally to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted because of their religion in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It does not apply to Muslims.

Critics have slammed the law as a violation of India's secular constitution and have called it the latest effort by the Modi government to marginalise the country's 200 million Muslims. Modi has defended the law as a humanitarian gesture. Uttar Pradesh state is controlled by Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. An anti-terror squad was deployed and Internet services were suspended for another 48 hours in the state.

India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an advisory on Friday night asking broadcasters across the country to refrain from using content that could inflame further violence. The ministry asked for "strict compliance".

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