The Delhi Riots seem to be engulfing the entire country and bringing back the memories of Kashmir in 1989 and Gujarat in 2002. Twenty people have been killed so far in the Delhi riots that broke out on Monday in Maujpur and Jafrabad areas of Delhi’s North East district.
Nearly 150 were wounded and property–cars, homes, shops and a petrol pump–were set on fire amid heavy stone-pelting and clashes that were unleashed on the streets of India’s national capital.
A mosque has also been set on fire in Delhi as more than a dozen people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes between opposing groups of protesters the Indian capital, hospital officials said on Tuesday.
A video — verified by AFP — circulating on social media on Tuesday showed men ripping off the muezzin’s loudspeaker on top of the mosque’s minaret and placing a Hanuman and an Indian flag. The Wire reported that a mob shouting “Jai Shri Ram.” Copies of the Quran were also reportedly burnt during the attack, AFP reported but not independently confirmed by the EurAsian Times.
The clashes, the worst in the capital since unrest over a new citizenship law began in December, started at the weekend but turned deadly on Monday. Violence erupted again in multiple areas of northeast Delhi on Tuesday, just miles away from where Trump and Indian PM Narendra Modi met for talks.
India’s capital has been the epicentre of unrest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, which makes it easier for non-Muslims from three neighbouring nations of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to obtain Indian citizenship.
Local TV channels showed huge clouds of smoke emanating from a tyre market that had been set ablaze and Reuters witnesses saw mobs wielding sticks and stones walking down streets in parts of northeast Delhi, amid further incidents of stone-throwing.
India’s junior home minister G Kishan Reddy told Reuters’ partner ANI on Monday that the violence was “a conspiracy to defame India”, at a time when Trump was visiting the country.
Some of those protesting at the citizenship law alleged, however, that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters were targeting Muslims and instigating the violence. “We have no weapons, but they are firing at us,” said Mohammad Shakir, a demonstrator stated. “This BJP is targeting Muslims. They want to turn India into a Hindu country.” The Hindu nationalist BJP denies any bias against India’s more than 180 million minority Muslims.
Reuters witnesses at a local hospital spoke with both Hindu and Muslim victims, who were injured in the violence on Tuesday. A few victims on both sides of the violence had suffered bullet wounds, and many had visible injuries on their heads and bodies.
An official at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in New Delhi said 13 people had died there and more than 150 injured had been treated at the hospital, many from bullet wounds.
An official at the Al-Hind Hospital in New Delhi said two men had died and over 200 injured had been treated there. A fire department official said his teams were responding to more than a dozen calls over arson attacks, despite emergency measures prohibiting any gatherings in the violence-hit areas.
“We have sought police protection as our vehicles are being blocked from entering the affected areas. The situation is very grim,” Delhi Fire Department Director Atul Garg said.
One fire department vehicle was torched by protesters on Monday and a small number of firemen were injured, Garg added. The joint commissioner of police Alok Kumar said about 3,500 police and paramilitary officers had been deployed. Police fired teargas and pellets to scatter demonstrators protesting against the citizenship law in the Jafrabad neighbourhood of northeast Delhi on Tuesday.
In New Jafrabad, local residents patrolled the street with sticks and metal rods. Two reporters with the local NDTV news channel were attacked and badly beaten by a mob. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed for calm. “Whatever problems people have can be resolved peacefully.
“Violence will not help find a solution,” he said on Tuesday. India’s Home Minister Amit Shah, who met local officials on Tuesday, urged political parties to avoid provocative speeches that could inflame protesters.
But, on Tuesday, after police cleared an anti-government protest site in northeast Delhi, B L Santosh, a leader from Shah’s party called for a harsh response. “The game starts now. Rioters need to be taught a lesson or two of Indian laws,” he said in a tweet.