At least seven people, a policeman and six civilians have been killed in violence between pro and anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters in Delhi. The clashes between two groups that broke out on Sunday and escalated on Monday left seven dead and several others, including policemen, injured.
Protesters supporting and opposing the law pelted stones at each other and set vehicles on fire. The timing of the violent protests, deadliest in Delhi since the controversial citizenship law was passed last year, has also come as an embarrassment to India as the country hosts US President Donald Trump and his family.
The government has claimed that the violence could be "ploy" in view of Trump's visit. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said that it was done in view of Trump's visit to dent the image of the Narendra Modi government. He also said that strict action will be taken against the perpetrators.
How the violence unfolded
The violence broke out in northeast Delhi's Muslim-dominated Maujpur, Jaffrabad, Chandbagh and Bhajanpura areas on Sunday and the situation went out of hand on Monday. Some reports claimed that the protesters were split on religious lines with some even chanting "shoot the traitors".
It all started after a controversial BJP leader Kapil Mishra threatened to forcefully remove the agitators staging a sit-in protest against the CAA. Mishra had given a three-day ultimatum to Delhi Police to vacate Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh roads where protests had been going on over the weekend. He said that once the US President had left India, his people won't listen to the cops and hit the streets to remove anti-CAA protesters.
On Sunday, clashes broke out between two groups near Jaffrabad where anti-CAA protesters had gathered. Stones were pelted and police had to fire tear gas shells to disperse the mob. The clashes didn't stop and the situation deteriorated further on Monday with both the groups wreaking havoc on Delhi roads.
Streets were full of stones and looked like some sort of war zones. The protesters set vehicles on fire and damaged public property in Moujpur, Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh areas. Shots were fired and TV cameras captured a man weaving gun in the air. He was later arrested by the police.
Section 144 was imposed in these areas and some reports claimed that internet services were also stopped. A massive police force was deployed and people were being checked at various posts.
The violence on Monday claimed seven lives. Six civilians and a Delhi police head constable were killed. The toll of injured was said to be over 100 and they included people from both sides and the police personnel.
While there has been no statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed for calm. He said that Delhi police that comes under the Union Home Ministry, was not getting orders from the above and that there were not enough forces on the streets to control the situation.