Death Toll Hits 20 Amid Delhi Riots 02/26 06:12
NEW DELHI (AP) -- At least 20 people were killed and 189 injured in three
days of clashes in New Delhi that coincided with President Donald Trump's first
state visit to India, with the death toll expected to rise as hospitals
continue to take in the wounded, authorities said Wednesday.
Violence between Hindu mobs and Muslims protesting a new citizenship law
that fast-tracks naturalization for foreign-born religious minorities of all
major faiths in South Asia except Islam left shops, Muslim shrines and public
The dead included a policeman and an intelligence bureau officer and the
government has banned public assembly in the affected areas.
While riots wracked northeastern New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
hosted a lavish reception for Trump, including a rally in his home state of
Gujarat attended by more than 100,000 people and the signing of an agreement to
purchase more than $3 billion of American helicopters and other military
On Wednesday, Modi broke his silence on the clashes, tweeting that "peace
and harmony are central to (India's) ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers
of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times."
New Delhi's top elected official, Chief Minister Arvind Kerjiwal, called for
Modi's home minister, Amit Shah, to send the army to areas in a northeastern
corner of the sprawling capital affected by the riots.
Police characterized the situation as tense but under control. Schools
Sonia Gandhi, a leader of the Congress party, India's main opposition group,
called for Shah to resign. She accused Modi's Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya
Janata Party of creating an environment of hatred and its leaders of inciting
violence with provocative speeches that sought to paint protesters against the
citizenship law as anti-nationalist, Pakistan-funded Muslims.
The clashes escalated Tuesday, according to Rouf Khan, a resident of
Mustafabad, an area in the capital's northeast.
Khan said mobs with iron rods, bricks and bamboo sticks attacked the homes
of Muslims while chanting "Jai Shri Ram," or "Victory to Lord Ram," the popular
Hindu god of the religious epic "Ramayana."
As Air Force One flew Trump and his delegation out of New Delhi late
Tuesday, Muslim families huddled in a mosque in the city's northeast, praying
that Hindu mobs wouldn't burn it down.
"After forcing their way inside the homes, they went on a rampage and
started beating people and breaking household items," Khan said of the mobs,
adding that he and his family had to run and take shelter inside a mosque that
he said was guarded by thousands of Muslim men.
"I don't know if our house was burned or not, but when we were running away
we heard them asking people to pour kerosene and burn everything down," Khan
Some of the dead had bullet wounds, according to Dr. Sunil Kumar, medical
director of the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.
Others came to the hospital with gunshot and stab wounds and head injuries.
Among them was Mohammad Sameer, 17, who was being treated for a gunshot
wound to his chest Wednesday at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.
Speaking to The Associated Press after having an operation, Sameer said he
was standing on his family's apartment terrace watching Hindu mobs enter
Mustafabad when he was shot in the chest.
"When Sameer was shot, I took him on my shoulders and ran downstairs," said
the boy's father, Mohammad Akram. "But when the mob saw us, they beat me and my
injured son. He was bleeding very badly. While they were beating with sticks,
they kept on chanting 'Jai Shri Ram' slogans and threatened to barge inside our
Akram said he managed to get his son into a vehicle, but they were stopped
several times by Hindus demanding they pull their pants down to show whether
they were circumcised before they managed to escape from the area and reach the
emergency room. Muslims are generally circumcised, while Hindus are not.
In Kardampura, a Muslim-majority area where a youth was shot and killed on
Monday, hundreds of police personnel in riot gear patrolled the area and asked
people to stay indoors, while residents said they were living in fear.
"We are scared and don't know where to go," said one resident, Dr. Jeevan
Ali Khan. "If the government wanted, they could have stopped these riots."
Close by, black smoke still rose on Wednesday afternoon from a market that
sold tires and second-hand car parts in Gokalpuri as fireman tried to douse the
The violence drew sharp reactions from U.S. lawmakers, with Rep. Rashida
Talib, a Democrat from Michigan, tweeting, "This week, Trump visited India but
the real story should be the communal violence targeting Muslims in Delhi right
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the killing of Muslims,
saying: "Now 200 million Muslims in India are being targeted. The world
community must act now."
Trump told reporters Tuesday that he had heard about the violence but had
not discussed it with Modi. Instead, Trump gloated about his reception in India.
India has been rocked by violence since Parliament approved the citizenship
law in December. Opponents have said the country is moving toward a religious
citizenship test, but Trump declined to comment on it.
"I don't want to discuss that. I want to leave that to India and hopefully
they're going to make the right decision for the people," he said.