UPDATES WITH DEATH TOLL, QUOTES
By Cheena Kapoor
NEW DELHI (AA) - At least nine people, including a policeman, have been killed in Delhi as protests against India's controversial new citizenship law continued for the third day on Tuesday.
The clashes, which erupted in North-East Delhi on Sunday between pro-and anti-citizenship law protesters, took a violent turn on Monday, the day U.S. President Donald Trump kicked off his two-day maiden trip to India.
The violence has also resulted in injuries to at least 130 others, including paramilitary and police personnel. This has led the government to impose Section 144, which prohibits mass public gatherings, for at least a month in the city where Trump is expected to have dinner with his Indian counterpart later in the day.
The situation worsened when Kapil Mishra, a leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), warned police to clear the protest site ahead of Trump’s official visit. In a video released on Twitter, he is seen giving an ultimatum to the police.
Soon after, a group of protesters supporting the law -- flanked by police officers -- entered the protest site. A video circulated on social media showed these men chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram’ (Hail Lord Ram), a slogan synonymous with right-wing Hindus, before starting to throw stones.
The new law grants amnesty to non-Muslim immigrants from three neighboring Muslim-majority countries. Critics say it discriminates against Muslims.
“We can confirm that there have been 10 deaths at the hospital. Over 100 injured have arrived at the hospital so far and we are still receiving patients,” said Dr. Rajesh Kalra, additional medical superintendent at Guru Tech Bahadur Hospital, a government-run hospital in the riot-hit district.
Meanwhile, two more people were injured in a fresh firing incident at Vijay Park in North-East Delhi Tuesday afternoon. Talking to Anadolu Agency, Shanu Siddiqui, a resident in the area, who himself got hurt in the chest, spoke about the horrors.
“The firing has not stopped since last night. These right-wingers are being backed by the police, who are also providing them with weapons and clubs to beat up the common people,” said Siddiqui, who was injured when a tear gas can hit him.
“It is a very tense situation here, with mobs from both sides in a stand-off since last night. Any movement and they start pelting stones," he added.
"Last night, people returning to their homes from work were thrashed by mobs. We could hear ‘Jai Shree Ram’ chants all through the night. It is like we are under a house-arrest."
- Journalists injured
Those injured also included newsmen: a local journalist received a bullet injury, and two other reporters were beaten up by rioters in the district.
Locals from the violence-hit areas have condemned Mishra and the Pinjra-Tod (Break the Cage) group for disrupting the silent protests.
Pinjra-Tod is an autonomous collective of women students, members of which took part in the anti-citizenship law protest on Saturday.
“We, the people of Jaffrabad, condemn Pinjra-Tod, who got us into these violent clashes. This group turned our silent protests into violent outbursts,” said Zohran Jilani, an activist.
- Measures taken
Police said they will detain the miscreants and initiate legal action against them.
“People should cooperate with us to maintain peace. We are here till the situation normalizes. Else, we will deploy more forces," said Satish Golcha, special commissioner of police in Delhi.
To prevent further violence, entry and exit gates of five train stations remain closed since yesterday. Schools in the violence-affected areas also remained shut on Tuesday.
“It was a positive meeting. We will try our level best to normalize the situation in Delhi. It was decided that all the political parties will ensure that peace returns to our city. Police are doing their bit and Amit Shah has assured that whatever force is needed, will be provided. Everyone wants that the violence is stopped,” said Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi, during a news conference, following his meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Lt. Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal.
He has appealed to all residents to maintain peace.
Environment Minister Gopal Rai, who visited the violence-affected area, also appealed to the people of the area to restore peace.
Opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too requested the people of Delhi to exercise restraint "no matter what the provocation".
While reserve and local police have been deployed, additional units have been called in to deal with any untoward situation, according to sources.
Amid the riots, wreath-laying ceremony of Delhi Police head constable Rattan Lal, who lost his life during the clashes on Monday, was held. It was attended by Delhi’s Lt. governor and Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, among others.