Violent clashes broke out in the Bhajanpura and Maujpur neighbourhoods of northeast Delhi this morning, for a second time in less than 24 hours, as protesters for and against the controversial citizenship law clashed and threw stones at each other.
In disturbing videos of the violence at least one vehicle – an auto rickshaw – has been set ablaze. In another video a man dressed in a red shirt can be seen running towards an unarmed Delhi Police officer waving what appears to be a gun.
Other videos of the clashes – which began in the Kabir Nagar area near the Maujpur Metro Station – show people from both groups breaking off stones and chunks of the concrete divider along the main road to throw at each other. In at least one of these videos people can be heard chanting “Jai Shri Ram” slogans.
Delhi Police resorted to firing tear gas shells in an effort to control the situation. Once the violence escalated, paramilitary forces were called in to restore peace.
Responding to news of the violence Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called it “very distressing news” and urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah – under whose control Delhi Police rolls up – to “restore law and order and ensure peace and harmony is maintained”
Very distressing news regarding disturbance of peace and harmony in parts of Delhi coming in.
I sincerely urge Hon’ble LG n Hon’ble Union Home Minister to restore law and order n ensure that peace and harmony is maintained. Nobody should be allowed to orchestrate flagrations.
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 24, 2020
Today’s violence comes on the heels of stone throwing on Sunday afternoon near the Jafrabad area in the national capital, where a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA, has been on since Saturday night.
The peaceful protest at Jafrabad, where over 1,000 women – inspired by the now-iconic Shaheen Bagh protests – have gathered, is around 1 kilometre away from the scene of today’s violence.
Sunday’s violence broke out after local BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who has a history of making communal and incendiary comments, held a pro-CAA rally in the area.
The Election Commission had temporarily banned Mr Mishra from campaigning during Delhi Assembly polls earlier this month, citing a Twitter post that seemed to suggest anti-CAA protests at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh were creating “mini-Pakistans”.
Sunday also witnessed violent clashes in UP’s Aligarh, where police and anti-CAA protesters clashed. A portion of a shop was set on fire, at least two police vehicles were vandalised and police officers being injured.
Mobile internet in Aligarh was suspended at 6 pm on Sunday and has yet to be restored. Eight people were injured in the violence – five protesters and three police officers. One of the injured protesters had a gunshot wound; the police have denied opening fire.
The violent protests – in Delhi and in UP – come as United States President Donald Trump landed in Guajrat’s Ahmedabad – Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state – for a two-day visit.
Addressing a massive crowd at the newly-built Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Cricket Stadium – said to be the largest in the world – Mr Trump praised PM Modi and described India as a “country which is proud to be known as a nation where people from all faiths – Hindus, Muslims… worship side by side“.
Massive protests have swept the country against the citizenship law, which makes religion test for citizenship for the first time in India. While government says it will grant citizenship to minorities from three Muslim-majority neighbouring countries, critics have called the law “anti-Muslim”.