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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia has advised citizens and residents currently in northeast India to “exercise caution” and avoid areas where protests are underway, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in New Delhi said in a Twitter post on Saturday.
The cautionary note follows travel advisories issued by the US, UK and Canada, asking citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to northeast India, in light of violent demonstrations that broke out after the Indian government passed the divisive Citizenship Amendment Act on Thursday.
“The Embassy of Saudi Arabia in India hopes that visiting Saudi citizens and residents in India exercise caution regarding the occurrence of demonstrations in a number of Northeast Indian states and avoid places of demonstrations,” the tweet said.
The new Indian law, which was a key election promise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will grant citizenship to religious minorities including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled Muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan prior to 2015, and sought refuge in India. The law excludes Muslims.
The law has triggered widespread protests in the northeastern, resource-rich state of Assam, where protesters said it would convert thousands of illegal immigrants, specifically from neighboring Bangladesh, into legal residents. Locals accuse the immigrants of stealing their jobs and diluting the region’s cultural identity.
Now, human rights organizations say the law could also justify the deportation of thousands of Muslims living in Assam and unable to provide documents to prove their Indian citizenship.
Since Wednesday, tens of thousands of protestors have taken to the streets across India, but particularly in the Northeast, where clashes with police have plunged the region into chaos. An indefinite curfew has been enforced in Guwahati city in Assam and mobile and internet services have been suspended in 10 different districts of the state.
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