Thursday, 1 June, 2023

Donald Trump in India: Seven killed in Delhi violence during visit


BBC, Feb 25 : Seven people have been killed in Delhi in protests against India's controversial new citizenship law, as US President Donald Trump made his first official visit to the country.

A policeman and six civilians have died in the capital's deadliest day since the new law was passed last year.

Vehicles were set alight in the clashes between supporters and opponents of the law which, critics say, targets India's 200 million Muslims.

There are fears of further clashes.

BBC reporters in north-east Delhi say that despite heavy police presence, there are crowds of people throwing stones in the affected areas.

"There are around 200 people, some are holding the Indian flag in their hands, others are holding saffron flags, generally associated with right-wing Hindu groups. They are chanting Jai Shri Ram (hail Lord Ram)," BBC Hindi reporter Faisal Mohammed said.

The crowd was also shouting "shoot the traitors", our reporter added.

Correspondents say the timing of this incident is an embarrassment to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he hosts the US president and the violence has taken the spotlight away from Mr Trump's visit.

Where is the violence?

It broke out in three Muslim-majority areas in north-east Delhi on Sunday and continued into Monday.

The violence in the area has seen protesters firmly split along religious lines, BBC reporters who were at the location, said.

Both sides have blamed each other for starting the violence.

The violence has been linked to a BJP leader, Kapil Mishra, who had threatened a group of protesters staging a sit-in against the CAA over the weekend, telling them that they would be forcibly evicted once Donald Trump had left India.

The clashes spilled into Monday and police fired tear gas shells and led baton charges to disperse the stone-throwing crowds. TV footage showed flames and smoke billowing from buildings.

Eyewitnesses said they saw charred vehicles and streets full of stones in areas like Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh on Tuesday morning. Some said these areas resembled war zones.

Police were allowing people to enter only after checking their identity cards. Some Metro stations have also been shut.

What are officials doing?

Delhi's freshly re-elected Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, called on the federal government to restore law and order.

"There are not enough police on the streets [in the affected areas]. Local police are saying they are not getting orders from above to control the situation, and they are not able to take action," he told reporters.

The capital's police force reports directly to Mr Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government.

Who are the dead and injured?

Six civilians and one policeman have been killed in the violence so far.

At least 35 people are being treated in Delhi's GTB hospital for serious injuries, medical officials told BBC Hindi.

However, the number of injured is believed to be more than 100.

"One of the seriously injured is a senior police officer. He has now been moved to another hospital for specialised treatment," an official said.

Shahid Alvi, an auto rickshaw driver, died because of a bullet injury he suffered during the protest. His brother Rashid told BBC Hindi that Shahid was married just a month ago.

"He was shot in the stomach and died while we were taking him to the hospital," he said.

Another victim has been identified as Rahul Solanki.

His brother, Rohit Solanki, 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.

The new law has raised fears that India's secular status is at risk.

Critics say it discriminates against Muslims. But the government says the protests are unnecessary as it only seeks to give amnesty to persecuted minorities.

Protests so far have been largely led by Muslim women and men, but a lot of Hindus have also joined them.