South Africans gather outside Indian embassy in protest of India’s citizenship laws

South Africans outside the Indian embassy in Parktown, protesting against anti-Muslim fascism, 23 December 2019 | Picture Nigel Sibanda

South Africans gathered outside the Indian embassy in Parktown on Monday, 23 December in protest against anti-Muslim fascism.

Over the past two weeks, violent protests have erupted across India against a new citizenship law.

According to a report by AFP, hundreds of political leaders and others remain locked up for participating in this action.

Recently, areas such as Kashmir have had their mobile internet cut off by the government. Some areas have even reported a loss of fixed-line access.

To accommodate those in desperate need of internet connection to complete day-to-day tasks, the Indian government has set up internet kiosks that operate under the strictest rules.

People have to show their identity details and say exactly what they want to go online for, including what websites they intend to visit and why. Visiting social media sites is not allowed.

Officials pace behind the terminals, watching the screens closely and telling people to move on when they’re done. Users suspect that every click is tracked by software too.

New Delhi says it wants to avoid the net being used by militants as a deadly separatist insurgency has raged in Kashmir for decades. Internet usage is also closely monitored.

RELATED: Fresh clashes over India law, death toll hits 10

Even civil servants need permission to use the internet for government business, and in a dedicated office.

Fixed-line cable internet services have been restored to a select group of businesses like luxury hotels and some IT businesses.

But they have to ensure only staff use it, and not for “social media or political activity” or to create WiFi networks, the rules say. USB ports must also be disabled.

“We had to… agree to allow security forces to inspect our infrastructure anytime they want,” a software firm owner told AFP on condition of anonymity.

As tensions rise and the death toll climbs, Indians living in the diaspora have come together to show their support for those within the country’s borders.

(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)

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