Seven killed, about 150 hurt in Indian protest violence: Hospital official

SPH Brightcove Video
A policeman was killed and dozens of people injured amid clashes in New Delhi on Monday as thousands demonstrating for and against a new citizenship law rioted for several hours before US President Donald Trump's maiden visit to the city.
People clash during a protest over India's new citizenship law in New Delhi on Feb 24, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - At least seven people have been killed and around 150 injured in clashes between opposing groups in New Delhi, a police official told Reuters on Tuesday (Feb 25), as riots in parts of the city overshadowed US President Donald Trump's first visit to India.

The clashes, the worst in the capital since protests against a new citizenship law started more than two months ago, began over the weekend, but turned deadly on Monday.

Fresh violence erupted in multiple parts of north-east Delhi on Tuesday, just miles away from where Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met for talks.

"Seven persons, including one head constable of Delhi police, have died," said Anil Mittal, a police officer, adding that around 150 people were injured in Monday's violence.

A fire department official told Reuters that his teams were responding to more than a dozen separate calls relating to arson incidents, as fresh protests were held in the city.

"We have sought police protection as our vehicles are being blocked from entering the affected areas. The situation is very grim," said Delhi Fire Department Director Atul Garg.

He said the violence had not diminished since Monday despite authorities imposing an emergency law prohibiting any gatherings in the violence-hit areas.

One fire department vehicle was torched by protesters on Monday and a small number of firemen had been injured, he added.

Local television channel images showed huge clouds of smoke billowing from a tyre market that was set alight, and mobs wielding sticks and stones were seen walking down the streets in parts of north-east Delhi amid fresh reports of stone-pelting.

"There is a flow of injured people still coming in. There are casualties," said Dr Rajesh Kalra, the additional medical superintendent at the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in New Delhi.

"There are all kinds of injuries - many pellet injuries and some from sharp weapons, too," said Kalra, adding that some of the injured brought in on Monday had gunshot wounds.


On Monday, police had used tear gas and smoke grenades, but struggled to disperse the stone-throwing crowds that tore down metal barricades and set vehicles and a petrol pump alight.

At a press conference early on Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed for people to maintain peace.

"Whatever problems people have can be resolved peacefully," he said. "Violence will not help find a solution."

Schools in the north-east of the city were shut on Tuesday and at least five metro stations in the city were closed.

A Reuters witness in the area saw paramilitary troops armed with assault rifles patrolling streets that were strewn with rocks and shards of glass.

An announcement over a mosque loudspeaker urged protesters to stay non-violent and not attempt to cross police barricades.

"We don't have a problem with the police, we are against the government's law," the male announcer said.

India's capital has been a hotbed of protests against the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which makes it easier for non-Muslims from three neighbouring Muslim-dominated countries to gain Indian citizenship.

The CAA has sparked accusations that Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are undermining India's secular traditions. The BJP denies any bias against India's more than 180 million-strong Muslim minority, but objectors have been holding protests and camping out in parts of New Delhi for two months.

The violence that erupted on Monday came as Trump was praising India as a tolerant country.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.