Indian states propose land rights amid citizenship fears

Manjunath Kiran / AFP

Authorities in two Indian states are looking at ways to protect the rights of indigenous people and refugees, amidst protests against a new citizenship law.

Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has flagged a planned law in the northeastern state of Assam that "will prevent indigenous people from selling land to non-indigenous persons".

However, there's little clarity on who classifies as an indigenous person.

Meanwhile, West Bengal's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she will not implement the citizenship law in the state and will expedite the process of giving land rights to tens of thousands of immigrants who have lived in the state for nearly five decades.

This comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the new law, claiming his government introduced reforms without any religious bias.

At least 21 people have died in clashes with police as thousands of people took to the streets across India to protest the law.

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