New Delhi, India (CNB News) –Thirteen people have been killed in Delhi including one police officer, have been killed in the deadliest violence the Indian capital has seen in decades.
The clashes first broke out on Sunday, between protesters in favour of a controversial new Indian citizenship law and those against it. The violence has taken on religious overtones, with Hindu and Muslim groups fighting each other.
The clashes came during US President Donald Trump’s first official visit to the country.
The violence is centred on Muslim-majority neighbourhoods in north-east Delhi – about 18km (11 miles) from the heart of the capital, where Mr Trump has been holding meetings with Indian leaders, diplomats and businessmen.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – which critics say is anti-Muslim – has sparked massive protests since it was passed last year, and some of those have turned violent. But the demonstrations in Delhi have been peaceful until now.
When asked about the violence during a press briefing, Mr Trump evaded the issue, saying the incident was “up to India” to handle.
However, he said he had brought up the issue of religious freedom in the country and was impressed by the government’s response.
Correspondents say the current unrest is an embarrassment to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as it has taken the spotlight away from Mr Trump’s visit.
Who are the dead and injured?
Thirteen people have been killed in the violence, according to hospital officials. The dead include Muslims and Hindus, as well a police constable, Ratan Lal.
Two journalists belonging to the NDTV news channel were badly beaten on Tuesday morning.
Two of my colleagues @arvindgunasekar and @saurabhshukla_s were badly beaten by a mob just now in Delhi, they only stopped beating them after realising they are “our people- Hindus”. Absolutely despicable.
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) February 25, 2020
Another reporter from a local channel called JK24x7 was shot at and wounded.
Shahid Alvi, an auto rickshaw driver, died from a bullet injury he suffered during the protest.
Another victim has been identified as Rahul Solanki. His brother, Rohit, told BBC Hindi that he died after being shot as he tried to escape from a mob.
“He had gone out to buy groceries when he was suddenly surrounded. He was shot at point blank range. We tried taking him to four hospitals but we were turned away,” he said.
What is the citizenship act about?
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) grants amnesty to non-Muslim immigrants from three nearby Muslim-majority countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
It has raised fears that India’s secular status is at risk, and critics say it discriminates against Muslims.
Mr Modi’s government denies this, and has said it only seeks to give amnesty to persecuted minorities. But hundreds of thousands of people across India, both Muslim and Hindu, have taken part in protests against the law. Some of the most high-profile protests, such as a continuing sit-in in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh area, have been led by Muslims.