Regional Indian party organises rally to support new citizenship law

MUMBAI: A regional party held a rally in India's financial capital Mumbai on Sunday to support a citizenship law introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year that has triggered nationwide protests.

India's Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which eases the path for non-Muslims from neighbouring Muslim-majority nations Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to gain citizenship, has triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests against Modi's government.

If combined with a proposed national register of citizens, critics of the CAA fear it would discriminate against India's Muslim minority and chip away at its secular constitution.

The rally called by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), a regional party from the western state of Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, was the first big demonstration in support of CAA, apart from rallies organised by Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

MNS chief Raj Thackeray said the rally was organised to counter protests opposing the new law, adding: "If you mess further, a stone will respond to a stone and a sword to a sword."

Thackeray blamed infiltrators from the neighbouring countries for terrorist attacks and crime in India.