Protests against the new citizenship law rock New Delhi. Reuters
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for calm on Wednesday after Delhi's worst sectarian violence in decades left at least 22 people dead and calls for a military curfew.Twenty-two people were killed and nearly 200 wounded in the violence, a doctor said, with many suffering gunshot wounds amid looting and arson attacks that coincided with a visit to India by US President Donald Trump.
Poeple carry the body of an unidentified man after retrieving it from an open drain in a riot affected area after clashes in Delhi. Reuters
The clashes come amid worsening religious tensions following a citizenship law that critics say is part of Modi's Hindu nationalist agenda.
Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called on Wednesday for the army to be deployed and for a curfew to be imposed over flashpoint northeastern districts.
"Police, despite all its efforts, (are) unable to control situation and instil confidence," Kejriwal tweeted on Wednesday morning.
"Army (should) be called in and curfew imposed."
A burnt-out mosque and shops are seen following clashes in Delhi. AFP
The clashes, which also left almost 200 injured, were triggered by protests against a citizenship law seen by many critics as anti-Muslim and part of Modi's nationalist agenda.
Police and paramilitary forces patrolled the streets in far greater numbers on Wednesday. Parts of the riot-hit areas were deserted.
"Peace and harmony are central to our ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times," Modi said in a tweet.
Modi's appeal came after a storm of criticism from opposition parties of the government's failure to control the violence, despite the use of tear gas, pellets and smoke grenades.
Security personnel patrol near burnt-out and damaged residential premises and shops following clashes in New Delhi. AFP
Sonia Gandhi, president of the opposition Congress party, called for the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah, who is directly responsible for law and order in the capital.
Protests against a contentious citizenship law began on a smaller scale Sunday but descended Monday and Tuesday into running battles between Hindus and Muslims in New Delhi's northeast, where rioters armed with stones, swords and even guns were out in force.
Police on Tuesday imposed a restriction on large gatherings in the area as the violence continued with reports of stone pelting and more structures set ablaze.
"I can now confirm 13 deaths. At least 150 people have come to our hospital with injuries," Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital official Rajesh Kalra told reporters late on Tuesday.
Violent clashes broke out in northeast Delhi for the second consecutive day. Reportedly prompted by a BJP leader, pro-CAA crowds tried to attack anti-CAA protesters, and the two groups engaged in stone-throwing.
At least two vehicles and a fire tender were torched in Jaffrabad and Maujpur. The police fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesters.People vandalise a car during a clash in New Delhi. AP
As parts of the national capital became war zones, paramilitary forces were deployed, and large gatherings were banned in the area.
Sunday's clashes near Jaffrabad, where over 1,000 women have gathered since Saturday night in a peaceful protest against the CAA, saw confrontations.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) closed the entry and exit gates of Jaffrabad, Maujpur-Babarpur, Gokulpuri, Johri Enclave, and Shiv Vihar stations.
Sunday's clashes took place in the area soon after BJP's motormouth leader Kapil Mishra gathered CAA supporters next to the Maujpur-Babarpur Metro Station, two kilometres from the Jaffrabad anti-CAA protest site, and threatened to evict protesters within three days. At least 500 people have been staging a sit-in from Saturday night on the road outside Jaffrabad Metro Station in northeast Delhi.
Mishra had said, "We have given a three-day ultimatum to the Delhi Police to get the road cleared. Get the Jafrabad and Chandbagh road cleared.” AIMIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi on Monday said the ex-MLA should be arrested for his inciting speech at northeast Delhi which led to clashes between two groups.
As things got out of control, Kapil Mishra on Monday appealed to the two groups clashing in northeast Delhi to exercise restraint, adding that violence was not the solution to anything.
Earlier on Monday, a number of Bhim Army activists also joined the anti-CAA agitation in Jaffrabad area.
The exit and entry gates of Jaffrabad metro station were closed.
The death of the police officer occurred during clashes between two groups in Delhi’s Gokulpuri. Head constable Ratan Lal was attached to the office of the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Gokulpuri.
Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Monday asked the Delhi Police and Commissioner of Police to ensure that law and order was maintained in the area. He, along with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, also urged people to exercise restraint while staging demonstrations.
"Have instructed Delhi Police and Commissioner of Police to ensure that law and order is maintained in North East Delhi. The situation is being closely monitored. I urge everyone to exercise restraint for the maintenance of peace and harmony,” Baijal said.
Kejriwal called it "very distressing news" and urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah – under whose control Delhi Police rolls up – to "restore law and order and ensure peace and harmony is maintained." Ved Prakash Surya DCP (North-East) said, "We have spoken to both sides, now the situation is calm. We are continuously speaking to people, now the situation is under control." In disturbing videos of the violence, a petrol pump can be seen on fire and vehicles and shops also set ablaze.
In another video a man in a red shirt can be seen running towards an unarmed Delhi Police officer waving what appears to be a gun.
In at least one of these videos people can be heard chanting "Jai Shri Ram" slogans.
Once the violence escalated, paramilitary forces were called in to restore peace. Delhi Metro has closed the Jaffrabad, Maujpur-Babarpur, Gokulpuri, Johri Enclave and Shiv Vihar stations.
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