07 April 2020

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


Seven people have been killed in Delhi in protests over India's controversial new citizenship law, hours before a visit by US President Donald Trump.

A policeman and six civilians 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.

Parts of the city remain tense as Mr Trump prepares for talks on Tuesday.

The violence in the Muslim-majority areas in north-east Delhi began on Sunday and continued into Monday. It is the first time a member of the security forces has been killed in the unrest around India since it erupted late last year.

The new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) grants amnesty to non-Muslim immigrants from three nearby Muslim-majority countries.

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

The violence in Delhi on Monday night saw protesters in the area firmly split along religious lines, BBC correspondents said.

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

Clashes first broke out on Sunday and both sides have blamed each other for starting the violence.

The violence 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.

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

"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 got married just a month ago.

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

The BBC's Anshul Verma says he saw charred vehicles and streets full of stones in areas like Jafrabad and Chand Bagh on Tuesday morning.

'Looks like a war zone'
"These areas looked like a war zone. Police were checking identity cards of people who entering these areas this morning. Some Metro stations have also been shut. Everybody looked tense," he added.

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

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

One of its leaders had threatened a group of protesters staging a sit-in against the CAA over the weekend, telling them that they would be forcibly cleared once Donald Trump had left India.

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

Mr Modi and Mr Trump, who lead the world's two largest democracies, are to hold formal talks in the capital on Tuesday. It's unclear if the Trump administration will comment on the violence. [Source BBC]

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