The death toll in the worst religious violence to hit India’s capital in decades has risen to at least 37, health officials said.
The violence was triggered after Muslims protesting against a discriminatory citizenship law were attacked by Hindu mobs.
More than 200 people have been injured during four days of violence in Muslim-populated areas of northeast Delhi, with police accused of looking the other way as a mob on Sunday went on the rampage, killing people and damaging properties, including mosques.
|What sparked the violence?|
|The violence was triggered after weeks-long peaceful sit-ins in New Delhi against a new citizenship law were attacked by Hindu nationalist mobs.
Muslims, India’s largest minority, say the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed last December discriminates against them and goes against the country’s secular ethos.
Parts of the capital descended into violence on Sunday after a leader of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) warned Muslims against continuing with sit-ins.
Over the next days, northeast Delhi’s Karawal Nagar, Seelampur, Maujpur, Bhajanpura, Vijay Park, Jafrabad, Chandbagh, Mustafabad and Yamuna Vihar witnessed pitched battles between Hindus and Muslims.
India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hosted US President Donald Trump while the violence was under way, has been criticised for inaction.
Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, February 27
‘No going back on CAA’: Law minister
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said their was no going back on the CAA”, but his BJP-led government would attempt to convince people that were opposing the law.
“After all, why shouldn’t the persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan be given citizenship,” he said during an address to the tax tribunal circuit bench.
Death toll rises to 37: Health official
Three more deaths have been recorded at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital taking the overall death toll in the deadly violence that has rocked parts of Delhi for days to 37.
“The number of deaths recorded in the hospital has reached to 33 now,” Dr Sunil Kumar, Medical Director of Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, told Aljazeera’s Bilal Kuchay.
Apart from the 33 deaths recorded at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, three have been recorded at Lok Nayak Hospital and one at Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital, Kuchay reported.
Dr Kumar added that 14 more injured persons were brought to hospital today, taking the number of injured attended at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital since Monday to 214.
OIC condemns Delhi violence
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in a two-part tweet condemned the violence in Delhi, “expressing its sincere condolences to the families of the victims” and describing the acts as “heinous”.
“The OIC calls on Indian authorities to bring the instigators and perpetrators of these acts of anti-Muslim violence to justice and to ensure the safety and security of all its Muslim citizens and the protection of Islamic holy places across the country,” the tweet said.
#OIC condemns the recent & alarming violence against Muslims in #India, resulting in the death & injury of innocent people & the arson and vandalism of mosques and Muslim-owned properties. It expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims of these heinous acts. pic.twitter.com/NQjKVoLgXQ
— OIC (@OIC_OCI) February 27, 2020
‘Divided city’: Hindus, Muslims put up barricades to keep each other out
Hindu and Muslim communities in a Delhi neighbourhood have erected barricades, Scroll editor Supriya Sharma posted on Twitter, with pictures showing the barricades.
“This is a view of Brahmpuri road in Delhi. On one side mostly Hindu homes, on the other, Muslim. Both communities have put up barricades. To keep the other out,” the tweet said.
A divided city.
This is a view of Brahmpuri road in Delhi. On one side mostly Hindu homes, on the other, Muslim.
Both communities have put up barricades. To keep the other out. pic.twitter.com/QTAnYlvxNa
— Supriya Sharma (@sharmasupriya) February 27, 2020
School exams cancelled amid violence
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CSBE) has postponed class 10 and 12 exams scheduled on February 28, 29 in violence-hit northeast Delhi, local Indian media reported.
CBSE, however, maintained that there would be no change in exam schedule across Delhi from March 2 onwards.
It further sought details from schools of students who were unable to appear for exams in violence-affected areas in northeast Delhi, adding that fresh exams would be conducted for them.
‘Families need funds to restart life’
Lawyer and activist Dushyant, who has been involved in the relief and rescue operation for the victims, told Al Jazeera some families have lost everything and they need funds to restart their life.
“People need medicines, cooked food,” he said.
“I think the first thing the victims need is assurance that the ordeal is over. They need the belief that the state is not against them and wrongdoers will be punished,” he added.
‘Mute spectators’: Gandhi criticises federal, Delhi governments
Sonia Gandhi, interim president of the main o pposition party Congress, criticised the federal and Delhi governments for being “mute spectators” to the violence in the capital city.
Accompanied by senior Congress leaders, Gandhi submitted a memorandum to Indian President Ram Nath Kovind regarding the violence that started on Sunday.
Congress delegation led by Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi & Former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh meet with the Honourable President of India, to present a memorandum on the Delhi violence. pic.twitter.com/jAzyh0fEvy
— Congress (@INCIndia) February 27, 2020
India says US politicising religious violence
India accused a US government commission of politicising communal violence in Delhi.
On Wednesday, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said it was deeply troubled by the violence and cited accounts that police had not intervened in attacks against Muslims, which police and India’s federal government have denied.
“The government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens,” USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava said.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the commission’s comments were “factually inaccurate and misleading” and appeared to be “aimed at politicising the issue”.