Japan PM puts off visit after unrest in Indian state

Japan PM puts off visit after unrest in Indian state

Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister, and Shinzo Abe, Japan's Prime Minister, observe an
FILE PHOTO: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister, and Shinzo Abe, Japan's Prime Minister, observe an honor guard ahead of a meeting at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, Oct 29, 2018. (Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Pool via Reuters)

NEW DELHI: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India for summit talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi has been deferred, India's foreign ministry said on Friday (Dec 13).

Abe was due to arrive in India on Sunday and hold talks with Modi in Guwahati, the main city of the northeastern state of Assam, which has been wracked by protests this week over a divisive new citizenship law.

Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for India's foreign ministry, said in a tweet that "both sides have decided to defer the visit to a mutually convenient date in the near future."

Thousands of protesters staged fresh demonstrations following several days of running battles with riot police that have left the streets of the region littered with burnt-out vehicles, rocks and other debris.

Other smaller protests took place in the capital of New Delhi, in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat, in Maharashtra in central India, in Kerala and Karnataka in the south and northern Punjab.

Many people in India's far-flung northeast, long a seething melting pot of different ethnic groups and religions, fear that the new legislation will grant citizenship to large numbers of Bangladeshi immigrants.

Days of protest have seen police - backed up by thousands of military personnel - fire tear gas and baton charge protesters, some of whom hurled stones, torched vehicles, and vandalised property.

On Thursday two people were killed and around 20 were being treated in hospital, medical staff said.

READ: Protesters set fire to train stations in India over citizenship law

The UN human rights office on Friday called on India "to respect the right to peaceful assembly, and to abide by international norms and standards on the use of force when responding to protests".

The internet has been cut in parts of Guwahati - activists say India is already the world's leading country when it comes to snapping online access - and many areas have been put under curfew.

As the protests continued, roads were blocked by fallen trees, concrete poles, stones and iron railings. Many cash machines ran out of money and most petrol stations were also shut. 

Source: Agencies/nr

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