Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for calm after days of violent sectarian clashes over a controversial new citizenship law left at least 20 people dead.
In his first comments on the crisis, Mr Modi appealed in a tweet “to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times”.
The clashes in New Delhi coincided with Donald Trump’s first state visit to India.
A senior doctor from the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital said on Wednesday: “There are 20 people dead and 189 injured.”
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. It is important that there is calm and normalcy is restored at the earliest.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 26, 2020
A spokesperson from the Al-Hind Hospital said the facility had treated more than 200 injured people since Monday, many with severe injuries.
Gunfire was heard and hospital officials said many of the wounded had been shot.
At least two mosques in northeast New Delhi and a tyre market were set alight and witnesses reported seeing marauding mobs wielding sticks, pipes and stones as police and firefighters battled outbreaks of arson, looting and stone-throwing.
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Police have used tear gas, pellets and smoke grenades against protesters during some of the worst violence seen in the Indian capital in decades.
The controversial measure will make it easier for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Muslim-majority countries which border India, to become Indian citizens than for Muslims.
The violence, largely between Hindus supporting the law and Muslims opposed to it, has been centred on a mixed area of the city, where officers have struggled to disperse mobs of rioters throwing stones.
Image: Vehicles, buildings and businesses were set alight during the rioting in New Delhi
Image: An effigy of Narendra Modi is burnt in Amritsar
A witness told Reuters that paramilitary and police forces had been deployed in “much greater numbers” on Wednesday and the streets were deserted.
Atul Garg, the director of the Delhi fire department, confirmed that the clashes have abated: “The situation is relatively better than yesterday in the violence-hit areas.
“There are no rioters on the streets and our vehicles have been able to reach the area,” he said.
Last year, widespread protests broke out in northeastern India, where people complained they would be “overrun” by immigrants from over the nearby Bangladeshi border.
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Mr Modi, and his Hindu nationalist BJP party, are the architects of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed in December, which critics say damages India’s tradition of secular tolerance.
He has spent most of the week seemingly oblivious to the unrest while entertaining Mr Trump in a two-day visit long on pomp and pageantry and short on policy.
Source : Sky News