Authorities deployed tear gas, as protesters hurled stones, damaged property and set numerous vehicles and a gasoline pump on fire, according to police, as the violence stretched into its second day.
On Wednesday morning, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s highest elected official, tweeted that police were “unable to control situation and instil confidence” despite ongoing efforts overnight, and requested that the military be called in and a curfew imposed in affected areas.
At least 188 people have been treated in hospital, mostly from bullet injuries, and the rest from blunt force trauma, since the violence began.
Twenty-one people have been declared dead, including a police officer who died from a bullet injury to the head. That number is expected to rise as the counting process continues, Chief Casualty Medical Officer at Delhi’s Guru Tej Bahadur Hospital said Wednesday.
Asad Ali, who works at a factory, said he had witnessed violence in East Delhi. “There are a lot of mobs outside and they are running around with rods breaking windows and destroying vehicles. We aren’t able to leave our houses. They are pelting stones as well,” Ali told CNN.
Several Indian journalists have also been injured covering the clashes. Arvind Gunasekar, a correspondent working for NDTV, told CNN he was in East Delhi reporting on violence at a Muslim graveyard on Monday when a mob of around 20 people turned on him. Gunasekar said the group had been yelling pro-Hindu slogans.
CNN has reached out to local police for further comment.
Months of protests
Opposition parties say the law is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on a person’s religion and would further marginalize India’s 200-million strong Muslim community.
The government, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the law seeks to protect religious minorities who fled persecution in their home countries.
There has also been pushback from indigenous groups in India’s northeastern states, who fear that giving citizenship to large numbers of immigrants would change the unique ethnic make-up of the region and their way of life, regardless of religion.
Speaking to the media in New Delhi on Tuesday, Trump said that he had not raised the clashes with his counterpart, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but that they had discussed religious freedom.
The violence took place in East Delhi, approximately 11 miles from where Trump and Modi held talks.
American officials have previously expressed concern about the citizenship law and suggested that the President should raise the issue with Modi during the trip.