Protests of Indian law grow despite efforts to contain them

Legal Events

From campuses along India’s Himalayan northern border to its southern Malabar Coast, a student-led protest movement against a new law that grants citizenship on the basis of religion spread nationwide on Wednesday despite efforts by the government to contain it.

The law provides a path to citizenship for Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and other religious minorities who are in India illegally but can demonstrate religious persecution in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It does not apply to Muslims.

Critics say it’s the latest effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government to marginalize India’s 200 million Muslims, and a violation of the country’s secular constitution.

Modi has defended it as a humanitarian gesture, but on Wednesday, authorities tightened restrictions on protesters, expanding a block on the internet and a curfew in Assam, where protests since the law’s passage a week ago have disrupted life in Gauhati, the state capital. They also restricted assembly in a Muslim neighborhood in New Delhi where demonstrators on Tuesday burned a police booth and several vehicles.

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Texas Adopts Statewide Texting-While-Driving Ban

Effective September 1, 2017, Texas will become the 47th state to pass a statewide ban on texting while driving. Governor Abbott’s signing of House Bill 62 is an effort to unify Texas under a uniform ban and remedy the “patchwork quilt of regulations that dictate driving practices in Texas.”

The bill specifically prohibits drivers from reading, writing, or sending an electronic message on a device unless the vehicle is stopped. That includes texting and emailing. It does not, however, prohibit dialing a number to call someone, talking on the phone using a hands-free device, or using the phone’s GPS system.

Violations would be punishable by a fine ranging from $25 to $99, to be set by each municipality. Although penalties could rise to as much as $200 for repeat offenders.

Studies have found that a driver’s reaction time is half as much when a driver is distracted by sending or reading a text message. According to state officials, in 2015 more than 105,000 traffic accidents in Texas involved distracted driving, leading to at least 476 fatalities.

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