At least thirteen people have been killed and over 150 injured after communal riots broke out in New Delhi. The riots have overshadowed U.S. President Donald Trump’s first visit to India.
The clashes are the worst since the unrest over a new citizenship law began in December, started at the weekend but turned deadly on Monday. Fresh violence erupted in multiple areas of northeast Delhi on Tuesday, just miles away from where Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met for talks.
Visuals showed smoke was billowing from a tyre market that had been set ablaze. Mobs wielding sticks and stones walking down streets in parts of northeast Delhi and further incidents of stone-throwing.
The fire department were responding to calls only after the Delhi police provided adequate security.
“We have sought police protection as our vehicles are being blocked from entering the affected areas. The situation is very grim,” said Delhi Fire Department Director Atul Garg.
On Monday, one fire department vehicle was torched by protesters on Monday and a small number of firemen were injured, Garg added.
Police fired tear gas and pellets to scattered rioters 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.
Meanwhile 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.
Home Minister Amit Shah met with Kejriwal and other local officials on Tuesday and said additional forces were being deployed in affected areas. He urged political parties to avoid provocative speeches that could inflame protesters.
Schools in the northeast of the city were shut on Tuesday and at least five metro stations closed.
Mosques through loudspeakers urged protesters to stay non-violent and not attempt to cross police barricades.
“We don’t have a problem with the police, we are against the government’s law,” the male announcer said.
On Monday police used tear gas and smoke grenades but struggled to disperse stone-throwing crowds who tore down metal barricades and torched vehicles and a petrol pump.
India’s capital has been a hotbed of unrest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which makes it easier for non-Muslims from three neighbouring Muslim-dominated countries to gain Indian citizenship.
Critics say the CAA undermines India’s secular traditions. But PM Modi and his party the BJP denies any bias against India’s more than 180 million minority Muslims but objectors have staging protests and camping out in parts of New Delhi for two months.
When visiting U.S. President was asked to comment on the violence a few miles away, President Trump said that he did not want to comment on India’s internal issues. However, he reiterated that ‘India’s unity inspires the world’.