February 9, 2020 / 1:23 PM / 8 days ago

Regional Indian party organizes rally to support new citizenship law

Supporters of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) wave flags during a rally in support of a new citizenship law in Mumbai, India, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A regional party held a rally in India’s financial capital Mumbai on Sunday to support a citizenship law introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year that has triggered nationwide protests.

India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which eases the path for non-Muslims from neighboring Muslim-majority nations Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to gain citizenship, has triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests against Modi’s government.

If combined with a proposed national register of citizens, critics of the CAA fear it would discriminate against India’s Muslim minority and chip away at its secular constitution.

The rally called by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), a regional party from the western state of Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, was the first big demonstration in support of CAA, apart from rallies organized by Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

MNS chief Raj Thackeray said the rally was organized to counter protests opposing the new law, adding: “If you mess further, a stone will respond to a stone and a sword to a sword.”

Thackeray blamed infiltrators from the neighboring countries for terrorist attacks and crime in India.

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Alex Richardson

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