New Delhi violence: 13 dead, at least 150 injured in clashes amid Trump’s visit

The unrest erupted in parts of New Delhi on Monday, several hours ahead of the arrival of US President Donald Trump, who is in India on a state visit.

Police deployed tear gas in affected areas, as protesters hurled stones and set numerous vehicles and a gasoline pump on fire, according to police. The violence took place in East Delhi, approximately 11 miles from where Trump is holding talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s highest elected official, tweeted that the violence was “very distressing” and requested that “peace and harmony” be restored.

As of Tuesday, 150 people were in hospital with various blunt force and bullet injuries, according to a medical officer, who did not want to be named. Fifty of those wounded were from firearm injuries, the medical officer said.

Thirteen people have been declared dead, including a police officer who died from a bullet injury to the head.

Months of protests

For months, Indians have been protesting over the controversial law, which gives Indian citizenship to asylum seekers from three neighboring countries — but not if they are Muslim. A number of people have died as part of the ongoing clashes.

Opposition parties say the law is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on a person’s religion and would further marginalize India’s 200-million strong Muslim community.

Clashes broke out in Maujpur, New Delhi, between supporters and opponents of India's new controversial citizenship law.

The government, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the law seeks to protect religious minorities who fled persecution in their home countries.

There has also been pushback from indigenous groups in India’s northeastern states, who fear that giving citizenship to large numbers of immigrants would change the unique ethnic make-up of the region and their way of life, regardless of religion.

The latest bout of violence comes as Trump visits India for the first time as US President, a much-anticipated event intended to bolster US-India relations.

Speaking to the media in New Delhi on Tuesday, Trump said that he had not raised the clashes with his counterpart, Prime Minister Modi, but that they had discussed religious freedom.

Modi has been accused of taking steps to move India away from secularism and toward a Hindu state, including the citizenship bill. Trump did not seem concerned with the specifics of those steps, saying instead that Modi wants “religious freedom very strongly.”
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a press conference in New Delhi.

American officials have previously expressed concern about the citizenship law and suggested that the President should raise the issue with Modi during the trip.

Protests continued in the capital on Tuesday, where Trump is holding formal talks with Modi and his administration, followed by a state banquet at the ornate Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official presidential palace, in the evening.

Asad Ali, who works at a factory, said he had witnessed more violence in East Delhi. “There are a lot of mobs outside and they are running around with rods breaking windows and destroying vehicles. We aren’t able to leave our houses. They are pelting stones as well,” Ali told CNN.

CNN has reached out to local police for comment.

Police spokesman Alok Kumar said earlier in the day that police had taken continuous action and that “force has been deployed” throughout affected areas Tuesday in a bid to quell signs of further unrest.

Several Indian journalists have been injured covering the clashes. Arvind Gunasekar, a correspondent working for NDTV, told CNN he was in East Delhi reporting on violence at a Muslim graveyard on Monday when a mob of around 20 people turned on him. Gunasekar said the group had been yelling pro-Hindu slogans.

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