India

India woman held for chanting 'long live Pakistan' at citizenship protest

Amulya Leona at the protest event in Bangalore Image copyright ANI
Image caption Ms Leona was charged with sedition at a protest event in Bangalore city

An Indian woman has been arrested and charged with sedition for chanting "long live Pakistan" at a protest in the southern city of Bangalore.

Amulya Leona was participating in a demonstration against a controversial citizenship law, which critics say discriminates against Muslims.

Her comments were immediately condemned by a prominent local Muslim politician.

Asaduddin Owaisi, who was at the rally, said neither he nor his party supported India's "enemy nation Pakistan".

Muslim politicians in Hindu-majority India are often targeted as being "pro-Pakistan" by political rivals, particularly in the last few years. The neighbouring countries have a historically tense relationship, fighting three wars since Pakistan's formation following the partition of India in 1947.

After the incident at the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) went viral, Ms Leona and her family were the target of massive outrage.

Clips of her comment were circulated widely, and her father has complained that a group of people came to his house and forced him to chant "hail mother India". They also told him that he had not brought his daughter up properly and threatened him against getting bail for her.

Police in the district told BBC Hindi that they are investigating his complaint, adding that Ms Leona would be produced before a judicial magistrate in 14 days.

What is the CAA?

The law offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three countries - Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

It amends India's 64-year-old citizenship law, which currently prohibits illegal migrants from becoming Indian citizens.

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Media captionAnti-citizenship law protests spread across Indian cities

It also expedites the path to Indian citizenship for members of six religious minority communities - Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian - if they can prove that they are from Muslim-majority Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. They will now only have to live or work in India for six years - instead of 11 years - before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.

The government says this will give sanctuary to people fleeing religious persecution, but critics argue that it will marginalise India's Muslim minority.

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