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Sunday , February 23 2020

India’s tourism industry suffers a blow due to protests

Indian policewomen detain a woman during a protest against new citizenship law in Ahmadabad, India, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. A new citizenship law passed by Parliament earlier this month has triggered nationwide protests in recent weeks. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

After travel advisories warnings issued by the United States, Britain, Russia, Israel, Singapore, Canada and Taiwan asking their citizens to refrain from visiting India. Officials estimate about 200,000 domestic and international tourists cancelled or postponed their trip to the Taj Mahal in the past two weeks, one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions. Blocking the internet has affected travel and tourism in Agra by about 50-60 percent. Where as in Assam tourism industry was down by 90%.

The Taj Mahal, situated in the town of Agra, attracts over 6.5 million tourists every year, generates nearly $14 million annually from entrance fees. But this year it has been a disastrous season. Country’s economic growth has slowed to 4.5 percent, its slowest pace in more than six years. It is expected to slow down much more.

Meanwhile a group of protesters in New Delhi was beaten and shoved into buses by police on Friday as they attempted to demonstrate against a new citizenship law that has triggered nationwide protests in recent weeks.

About two dozen people gathered near an Uttar Pradesh state government building in the capital to protest deaths and allegations of police brutality during protests in the north Indian state. Paramilitary and police forces were deployed and the internet was shut down in Muslim-majority districts in Uttar Pradesh, where more than a dozen people have been killed and more than 1,000 people arrested in the protests since the law was passed by Parliament earlier this month.

The Citizenship Amendment Act provides an expedited path to citizenship for Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Parsees from Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but not Muslims. Critics say it violates India’s secular constitution, and have filed challenges with the Supreme Court. Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to India’s streets to call for its revocation.

Twenty-three people have been killed nationwide in the protests, the first major roadblock for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda since his party’s landslide reelection earlier this year. Modi has defended the citizenship law and accused the opposition of pushing the country into a “fear psychosis.” Sixteen of the deaths occurred in Uttar Pradesh, according to state government spokesman Awanish Awasthi. Muslims account for 20% of the state’s 200 million people. The state government is controlled by Modi’s governing party. Government officials have repeatedly said security forces haven’t killed anyone. (AP)

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