NEW DELHI              -        Five recalcitrant Indian states and the BJP government in the centre appeared on a collision path over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, even as it was signed into law amid continuing protests in the North East of the country.

Taking a strong political stance, the chief ministers of five opposition-ruled states refused to implement the law against the backdrop of President Ram Nath Kovind giving his assent to the bill.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been vociferous in her opposition to the law, has announced a mega-rally over the issue in Kolkata on Monday.

More than 20 columns of Indian Army and Assam Rifles have been deployed across Assam, where two people were shot dead on Thursday.

In another significant development, a series of petitions were filed in the Supreme Court appealing for a review of the law.

Opposition chief ministers stepped up the political heat over the law. Apart from Banerjee, chief ministers Amarinder Singh of Punjab, Pinarayi Vijayan of Kerala, Kamal Nath of Madhya Pradesh and Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh said they would oppose the implementation of the law in their respective states.

“Any law that breaks the country, Congress has never accepted it. Madhya Pradesh government’s stand will be in line with what the Congress party decides,” Kamal Nath said. “There is nothing federal about this. Did any meeting with chief ministers happen before rolling this out?”

A home ministry official familiar with matter, however, said that since it is a central law the states will have no option but to implement it. States were “required to implement it since it is a central law”, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Protests against the law also gripped the national capital when protestors clashed with police personnel in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she would not allow its implementation in the state “under any circumstances”.

Lashing out at the BJP-led central government over the amended Citizenship Act, Banerjee said the saffron party can’t bulldoze the states to implement the law. “We will never allow the Citizenship Act in Bengal. We will not implement the amended Act, even though it has been passed in Parliament. The BJP can’t just bulldoze the states to implement it,” Banerjee said.

“The Citizenship Act will divide India. As long as we are in power, not a single person in the state will have to leave the country,” she added.

Terming the Citizenship Act a “direct assault on India’s secular character”, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said his government would not allow the legislation to be implemented in his state.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said his state will not accept the law while terming it “unconstitutional”. The Kerala government further accused the Centre of trying to “divide India on religious lines” and claimed that it is “a move to sabotage equality and secularism”.

Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh governments have also indicated that they would not implement the law, but officially they said they would back the position taken by the Congress high command.

Modi stumbles

As the political scene heats up across the country, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stumbled on the steps of Ganga ghat on Saturday and was picked up by his security officials. Modi was in Kanpur to review Namami Gange Project

Chief Ministers of two Gangetic states -- West Bengal and Jharkhand – boycotted a meeting to be chaired by Modi.

Meanwhile, Washington and London issued travel warnings for northeast India as opponents of a new citizenship law geared up for more protests on Saturday, following days of clashes that saw two people killed and dozens injured.

Many in the far-flung, resource-rich region fear the new legislation will grant citizenship to large numbers of immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, who they accuse of stealing jobs and diluting the region’s cultural identity.

No major incidents were reported overnight in Guwahati in Assam state, the epicentre of the protests, where two were shot dead and 26 hospitalised this week after security forces fired blank and live rounds, medical staff said.

The funeral procession of 18-year-old Sam Stafford, who was killed in the firing, took place on Friday and was attended by hundreds of angry and distraught mourners who shouted “Long live Assam” in Dispur, the state capital adjoining Guwahati.

“We were watching news all day on TV about the protests when my nephew left home in the evening. We asked him not to go but he went with his friends,” the student’s aunt Julie Stafford told media.

Authorities announced a curfew in place in Guwahati would be lifted from 9am to 4pm local time on Saturday.