NEW DELHI: Chief Minister of New Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, on Wednesday morning said that the Indian army should be called in to restore calm in New Delhi after police failed to take control of the Indian capital in the wake of anti-Muslim riots that have left at least 22 dead this week, reported India Today.
“I have been in touch with large number of people whole night. Situation alarming. Police, despite all its efforts, unable to control situation and instill confidence. Army should be called in and curfew imposed in rest of affected areas immediately,” Kejriwal said on Twitter.
However, Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who is a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday dismissed fears that the police had failed to control the situation in New Delhi. “There are enough forces on the ground and no one needs to fear,” Doval told NDTV.
The two largest political parties of India, meanwhile, resorted to trading blames over the violence, that has been condemned worldwide. Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said that Delhi Police had remained paralysed as lives were lost in the deadly Delhi riots.
“Delhi Police has remained paralysed in the last 72 hrs-around 18 lives have been lost so far, including a head constable. Hundreds are in hospital, many with gunshot injuries. Violence continues unabated on the streets of North East Delhi,” she said, according to Economic Times.
“The Centre and the Union Home Minister is responsible for the present situation in Delhi. The Union Home Minister should resign. The chief minister of Delhi must be visible in the affected areas,” she added, reported the Indian publication.
Clashes descend into pitched battles
The clashes began on Monday between people supporting and opposing the citizenship law, then descended into pitched battles between the mobs. Twenty people died and nearly 200 others were wounded in the first two days of violence, the director of the hospital where people were taken, told AFP on Wednesday.
Sixty people had suffered gunshot wounds, according to the director, Sunil Kumar. The area is home to mostly poorer economic migrants living in many shanty neighbourhoods, and some fled on Wednesday ahead of more expected clashes. “People are killing (each other). Bullets are being fired here,” a tailor in the Jaffrabad area told AFP.
“There is no work… It is better to leave than to stick around here. Why would we want to die here?” On Wednesday morning AFP saw people cleaning out the blackened and trashed interior of a mosque in the Ashok Nagar area burned out during the violence.
A video circulated on social media and verified by AFP showed men ripping off the muezzin’s loudspeaker on top of the mosque’s minaret and placing a Hindu religious flag and an Indian flag. The new citizenship law has raised worries abroad that Modi wants to remould secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalising the country´s 200 million Muslims, a claim he denies.
The law expedites the citizenship applications for persecuted minorities from India´s three Muslim-majority neighbouring countries, but not if they are Muslim. The flare-up in violence occurred as US President Donald Trump visited India and held talks with Modi in Delhi on Tuesday. But Trump left as scheduled on Tuesday and his visit was not visibly interrupted by the violence.
Government issues media advisory
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday attempted to gag media amid deadly violence in New Delhi. The Indian government has instructed news channels that they must be cautious about airing content that incited violence and promote anti-national attitudes, reported Hindustan Times.
According to NDTV, fresh violence tore through northeast Delhi on Tuesday, taking the death toll in the communal clashes over the amended citizenship law to 20.
“It is hereby reiterated that all TV channels are advised to be particularly cautious with regard to any content which is likely to encourage or incite violence, or contains anything against the maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national attitudes,” the advisory said.
The advisory also impressed upon private channels to be cautious of content that contains attack on religious or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religions groups or which promote communal attitudes.
It also cautioned against content that may carry “defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half truths”. The advisory asked channels to ensure that no content is telecast which is violative of the Programme and Advertising Codes as prescribed in the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995.
US lawmakers concerned over violence
The violence in New Delhi drew sharp reactions from US lawmakers soon after Trump concluded his India visit. Reacting to the violence, US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said the “deadly surge of religious intolerance in India is horrifying”.
Democratic hopeful for the US Presidency, Senator Elizabeth Warren, also tweeted out that the US had a responsibility to say that violence against peaceful protesters was never acceptable.
Court asks police to ensure treatment of injured
The Delhi High Court, in a late-night order, asked the police to ensure safe passage and emergency treatment for those injured in the unprecedented violence in the capital since for the last three days.
Delhi Police has been heavily criticised for apparent inaction when the violence unfolded and for deploying inadequate forces on the ground. “The Ministry of Home Affairs is continually supporting us. We have adequate forces,” Delhi police chef Amulya Patnaik had told news agency ANI on Tuesday.
With additional input from AFP