Tehran (IQNA)- Following days of violent, sometimes deadly protests across India against a new citizenship law critics say discriminates against Muslims, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led a rally on Sunday for his Hindu nationalist party in the capital.
New Delhi’s state election early next year will be the first major electoral test for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in the wake of the mass demonstrations seen after parliament cleared the Citizenship Amendment Act on Dec. 11.
Several thousand people took part in Modi’s rally where he accused the opposition of distorting facts to trigger protests.
“The law does not impact 1.3 billions Indians, and I must assure Muslim citizens of India that this law will not change anything for them,” said Modi, adding that his government introduces reforms without any religious bias.
“We have never asked anyone if they go to a temple or a mosque when it comes to implementing welfare schemes,” he said.
Modi’s nationalist party plans to hold more than 200 news conferences to counter the protests as anger grows over what critics say is an attack on the country’s secular constitution.
At least 21 people have died during clashes with police as thousands of people came out on the streets in towns and cities across the country to protest, marking the biggest challenge to Modi’s leadership since he first swept to power in 2014.
Fresh demonstrations were planned for Sunday in New Delhi, and northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where the largest number of deaths have occurred.
In most places, the demonstrations have been joined by people of all faiths, but Uttar Pradesh is a tinder-box for communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims, and authorities there have shut internet and mobile messaging services to prevent the circulation of inflammatory material.
More than 1,500 protesters have been arrested across India in the past 10 days, additionally, some 4,000 people have been detained and then released, the officials said.