NEW DELHI: Deadly violence against Indian Muslim population claimed at least 14 lives and injured 130 on Tuesday, as rioters unleashed a vicious rampage across several parts of the capital, torching buildings and vehicles and attacking journalists.
Smoke rose into the sky when Hindu protesters set fruit and vegetable shops and a Muslim shrine on fire in the Bhajanpur area.
A mosque was also set on fire on Tuesday by a Hindu mob who shouted “Jai Shri Ram”, translated to “hail Lord Ram”.
Videos shared to social media showed them climbing on top of the mosque’s minaret where they attempted to plant an Indian flag, the international media reports.
India has been rocked by anti-Muslim violence since Parliament approved a new citizenship law in December that provides rapid naturalisation for foreign-born minorities while depriving India’s indigenous Muslim population of those same rights.
The demonstrations in Delhi had been peaceful until a BJP leader, Kapil Mishra, threatened a group of protesters staging a sit-in against the law over the weekend, warning them that they would be forcibly evicted when US President Donald Trump, who is visiting India, left the country.
On Sunday, Hindu rioters, armed with stones, pickaxes and iron rods began to roam through three Muslim-majority areas in north-east Delhi, about 18km from the heart of the capital, launching a spiral of violence lasting over two days.
Delhi police spokesman MS Randhawa told reporters on Tuesday that the situation was under control and a “sufficient number of policemen” had been deployed.
Yet fresh violence was reported from Muslim populated areas such as Karawal Nagar, Maujpur, Bhajanpura, Vijay Park and Yamuna Vihar, while stones were thrown in neighbourhoods such as Maujpur.
Orders prohibiting the assembly of more than five people were defied as shops and vehicles were set on fire, a police officer who spoke to AP on a condition of anonymity, said.
“I can confirm that 11 people have died in the violence, including a policeman who died yesterday,” Sunil Kumar, medical superintendent of Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, where the injured were taken to, told reporters.
Two journalists were also badly beaten on Tuesday morning.
President Trump, who held bilateral meetings with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, declined to comment on the situation:
“I don’t want to discuss that. I want to leave that to India and hopefully they’re going to make the right decision for the people,” he said.
Amnesty International on Monday said that “anti-Muslim sentiment permeates” the policies of both United States and Indian leaders, who share values of “bigotry and hostility”, in a joint statement ahead of Trump’s visit.
Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal said his party’s legislators from the affected areas said there was a “severe shortage” of police officers.
Mittal, the Delhi Police official, said on Tuesday additional police officers had been deployed in the northeast district of Delhi.
One police constable was among those killed in the violence that erupted just ahead of Trump’s maiden visit to the capital city.
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