John Dayal and Fr. Cedric Prakash arrested for anti-Muslim law demonstrations (Video and photos)

Activists challenged the demonstration ban imposed by the Delhi authorities. Dayal: "A day well spent". Jesuit priest: "We are really living in a fascist state!" The death toll in the protests rises to nine.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - John Dayal and Fr. Cedric Prakash are two of the thousands of people arrested yesterday in India for defying the ban on demonstrating against the new law on citizenship that discriminates against the Muslim community.

The first was stopped in Delhi, the second in Ahmedabad (in Gujarat). After a few hours they were both released. The two well-known activists are collaborators of AsiaNews and have been fighting for years for the defense of human rights in India.

Dayal is general secretary of the All India Christian Council and president of the All India Catholic Union. AC Michael, a Delhi activist, said Dayal was arrested in Shahid Park and taken to Bawana where the Sanjay Gandhi Stadium had been turned into an open-air prison.

Diabetic and with the need to take insulin, Dayal remained in custody for several hours. At that juncture, the lawyers of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) India, an organization that defends discriminated Christians, sent him sweets and chocolate through the policemen.

On what he experienced yesterday, Dayal states: "A day well spent. I was one of the thousands of people arrested across the country under a colonial law [section 144] for opposing a sectarian law that demonizes a fifth of the population ".

Fr. Prakash, a Jesuit, is a well-known defender of freedom of expression and democratic freedoms. He recounts his arrest to friends on Facebook and publishes images directly from the police station in the satellite district of Ahmedabad. "I was stopped - he says - with so many other people and it is already more than two hours that we are here. But in the meantime we sing songs and slogans and read the Preamble of the Constitution. We are really living in a fascist state! ".

Protests are continuing throughout the country against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (Cab), the norm that facilitates the request for citizenship by persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but excludes Muslims. Yesterday three people died in clashes with agents. Thus the toll of what has been called the "most divisive law of India" has risen to nine victims.