9 killed, 150 injured in clashes in New Delhi
People supporting the new citizenship law beat a man during a clash with those opposing the law in New Delhi. Internet photo
Reuters, AFP Dawn.com :
At least nine people were killed on Tuesday while more than 150 were injured in clashes between opposing groups in the Indian capital, reported Scroll.in, the deadliest riots in the city since protests against a new citizenship law began over two months ago.
According to the report, angry mobs threw stones and petrol bombs at Muslim homes in Kabir Nagar, near Maujpur. Journalists were also attacked and many were forced to delete pictures and videos from their phones, the publication added.
The report added that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said he had a "positive meeting" with Home Minister Amit Shah regarding the riots in the Indian capital. Speaking to the media, he maintained that police were outnumbered and were unable to take action as they did not have orders to do so, the publication said.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met for talks on Tuesday at a venue located a few miles away from where the clashes occurred.
According to The Wire, stone-pelting and arson have continued in the Ghonda area, close to Maujpur.
Across the locality, The Wire saw broken and burnt vehicles, burnt shops and vehicles still on fire. There were some police standing at the edge of the Hindu-majority area, but did not intervene when vehicles were burning, the publication said.
Eyewitnesses said the violence continued overnight, and several shops were broken. "There was stone pelting in the area early this morning also," a resident was quoted as saying.
The clashes erupted in a northeastern district of the city between thousands of people demonstrating for and against the new citizenship law.
Tensions in parts of the city remained high on Tuesday with schools remaining shut in some areas amid news reports of fresh clashes. At least five metro stations in the city were closed.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted that schools in the capital's northeast would be shut on Tuesday and exams postponed.
Police used tear gas and smoke grenades but struggled to disperse the stone-throwing crowds that tore down metal barricades and set vehicles and a petrol pump alight.
"Some of the people brought in had gunshot wounds," said Dr Rajesh Kalra, additional medical superintendent at the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in New Delhi.
One police constable was killed, a police official told Reuters, declining to be named since he wasn't authorised to speak to media.
A fire department official told Reuters that its teams were responding to reports of at least eight separate cases of arson on Tuesday, linked to fresh protests in the city.
One department vehicle was also torched by protesters on Monday, and a small number of firemen were injured in the violence, he added.
The violence on Monday began just as Trump began his maiden visit to India.
At a press conference early on Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed for people to maintain peace.
"Whatever problems people have can be resolved peacefully," he said. "Violence will not help find a solution."
India's Home Minister Amit Shah is expected to meet Kejriwal and police officials on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the situation.
India's capital has been a hotbed of protests against the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which eases the path of non-Muslims from three neighbouring Muslim-dominated countries to gain Indian citizenship.
This has led to accusations that Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are undermining India's secular traditions.
The BJP denies any bias against India's more than 180 million-strong Muslim minority, but objectors have been holding protests and camping out in parts of New Delhi for two months.
Reuters reporters saw multiple vehicles set on fire, metal barricades torn down and thick smoke billowing as supporters of the new law clashed with opponents. A small contingent of police was vastly outnumbered.
The clashes stretched over a nearly kilometre long road and lasted from early afternoon until well into the evening, leaving at least half a dozen people injured.
Police on Monday imposed an emergency law prohibiting any gatherings in the violence-hit areas. The protesters appeared to be divided along religious lines, and some repeatedly hailed Hindu god Ram while pelting stones at the predominantly Muslim group opposed to the new law.
A Reuters witness saw at least one Muslim man and a burqa-clad woman were beaten by dozens of pro-law protesters with sticks and iron rods.
Earlier on Monday, local politician Yogendra Yadav described the violence as "communal" and urged police to intervene.
But for several hours, Reuters witnesses saw the outnumbered policemen mostly stand beside those backing the citizenship law, a majority Hindu group, and do little to quell the violence.
The police also stood by as a mob vandalised a store with a Muslim name, pulling out vehicles and setting them alight.
"Go ahead and throw stones," one policeman shouted to protesters backing the law, during one of the running battles.
On side streets, young boys drained fuel from motorcycles to make petrol bombs, and protesters pulled up paving stones and flung construction material at opponents.
"We are in support of the CAA. If they want to protest, they should go somewhere else," said a protester who gave his name as Amit.
India's junior home minister G Kishan Reddy said the violence was a "conspiracy to shame India globally" during Trump's visit.
"We have deployed additional forces, and we will do everything to bring law and order under control," he told Reuters partner ANI.
Ahead of Trump's arrival in India, a senior US administration official had said Trump would raise the issue of religious freedom in India during his meetings with Modi.
Addressing a gathering of more than 100,000 people in Gujarat, however, Trump made no mention of the protests enveloping India over its Citizenship Amendment Act.
At the rally in Ahmedabad, Trump praised India's history of religious tolerance, and "many faiths worshiping side-by-side".
"India is a country that proudly embraces freedom, liberty, individual rights, the rule of law, and the dignity of every human being," he said.
'The world has been shown the truth'
In Pakistan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the violent clashes on India's citizenship law, in President Turmp's presence, have shown the world the truth.
"Has the world [now] seen who suffers from mental illnesses like prejudice, extremism and warmongering?" Awan said in a tweet.