Fresh violence erupts in Indian capital during anti-CAA protests

Fresh violence erupts in Indian capital during anti-CAA protests

Leftist students activists shout slogans as they protest against the visit of US President Donald Trump to India, in Kolkata on February 24, 2020. / AFP / Dibyangshu SARKAR

A policeman was reportedly killed and several others injured on Monday during the second day of violent clashes over controversial citizenship law.

Fresh violence has erupted in the northeast of the Indian capital, New Delhi, as US President Donald Trump kicked off his two-day trip in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

A policeman was reportedly killed and several others injured on Monday during the second day of violent clashes over controversial citizenship law, which has triggered nationwide protests.

The latest unrest erupted between several hundred supporters and opponents of the law in a Muslim-dominated area of Jaffrabad on Sunday and continued into Monday with police seeking to restore order.

Police on Monday used tear gas and smoke grenades to disperse the crowds.

Authorities have imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (a government order which prohibits assembly of more than four persons in public places) at 10 locations in the northeast district of Delhi.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) closed the entry and exit gates of Jaffrabad and Maujpur-Babarpur stations – the areas affected by violence. Trains will not be halting at these stations.

Clashes in the area were triggered on Sunday after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader issued an ultimatum to police to remove anti-citizenship sit-ins.

“BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s men yesterday came to Jaffarabad and incited people and threatened people who are protesting the citizenship law. Police was there but did nothing,” said a Delhi-based activist Nadeem Khan, who visited Jaffarabad.

“Members of various right-wing organisations, brought from various places, threw stones on peoples homes and beat locals. It’s clearly an organised, pre-planned attack.”

His accounts could not be independently verified by Al Jazeera as calls to police went unanswered.

The Press Trust of India said protesters torched at least two houses and a fire engine, with local TV channels showing plumes of black smoke billowing from buildings.

Riot police fired tear gas and conducted baton charges, local media said.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, tweeted: “Very distressing news regarding disturbance of peace and harmony in parts of Delhi coming in.”

He urged the home minister to “restore law and order” and ensure “peace and harmony is maintained”.

In the latest eruption of violence at protests on Sunday, hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it, with the two groups pelting each other with stones in the Maujpur area in the northeastern part of the city, according to television footage.

On Sunday, a separate protest also erupted in the northern Indian city of Aligarh, where protesters threw stones at the police, said state administration official Chandra Bhushan Singh.

India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which eases the path for non-Muslims from neighbouring Muslim-majority nations to gain citizenship, has triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

The law is seen by opponents as discriminating against Muslims and has deepened concerns that Modi’s administration is undermining India’s secular traditions.

Trump arrived in the western state of Gujarat on Monday and addressed a huge rally with Prime Minister Modi before he visited the Taj Mahal monument.

The US president was due in Delhi on Monday evening before official talks in the city on Tuesday.

The new law has raised worries abroad – including in Washington – that Modi wants to remould secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalising the country’s 200 million Muslims.

A senior US official told reporters Trump would raise concerns about religious freedom in the Hindu-majority nation during the trip, calling them “extremely important to this administration”.

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