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India protests: 14 people dead and 4,000 detained as police cut internet in bid to quell growing demonstrations

Police in India banned public gatherings and continued clampdowns in Muslim-majority regions for a third day amid protests against a controversial citizenship law that saw 14 people killed and more than 4,000 detained.

Internet services were cut as the government attempted to temper unrest across the country, with thousands amassing on the steps of New Delhi’s Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in the country.

Waving Indian flags and shouting anti-government slogans, protesters accused the government of threatening the nation’s secular democracy and marginalising its sizeable Muslim minority.

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Similarly large protests took place outside the city’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, the site of violent clashes as students collected signatures demanding the law be scrapped. Students have since accused police of excessive force in the incident, with dozens being seriously injured in the ensuing carnage.

In response to growing unrest authorities erected roadblocks and turned areas around mosques in the Indian capital, Lucknow and other areas frequented by Muslims into security fortresses to prevent widespread demonstrations after Friday prayers.

Elsewhere violence erupted in several towns in Uttar Pradesh. Police were forced to disperse activists in Muzzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Firozabad and Gorakhpur with tear gas and batons.

In the southern city of Mangalore on Thursday night officers were seen beating at activists who has taken shelter in a hospital, kicking down the door after the members of the public had hurled rocks at them.

Meanwhile in Meerut, to the north of New Delhi, two protesters were killed when they were fired upon from a rooftop.

Officer Dinesh Rai said police had not fired on the crowds, and an investigation into their deaths were underway.

They join the death toll alongside others in Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka in protests that have spanned regions, cultures and motivations.

The unrest was sparked after the government voted to pass India’s contentious citizenship bill – put forward by Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government to offer an easier path to citizenship for religious minorities in neighbouring countries.

The policy grants Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs who fled Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan in half the time of other groups if they can argue they suffered religious discrimination in their country of origin.