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Modi Defends India’s New Citizenship Law as Protests Persist

Prime minister says measure provides a haven for persecuted minorities, while critics claim it adds a religious test that threatens to exclude Muslims

Critics of India's new citizenship legislation, which puts some Muslim immigrants at a disadvantage, say Prime Minister Narendra Modi is undermining the country’s secular foundation. Here’s why Muslims aren’t the only Indians taking to the streets. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

NEW DELHI—Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended a new citizenship law critics say discriminates against Muslims, as violent clashes between authorities and protesters persisted despite curfews, internet cuts and the deployment of thousands of police.

Mr. Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party scored a landslide electoral win in May, and critics say they have taken a series of steps to promote a Hindu nationalist agenda and erode secular protections of minorities, particularly Muslims, as well as diverting attention from...