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Delhi On Fire, Hindu Mobs Set Muslims And Mosques Ablaze

The death toll in India's worst religious violence in decades has risen to 23 and more than 80 have been injured including members of the Delhi Police since Sunday. At the time I am writing this post, the body of one Indian intelligence officer has been found in a drain in Jafrabad, believed to have been beaten to death by a Hindu mob.

The worst-hit areas were Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Chand Bagh, Bhajanpura, Gokulpuri, and Kardampuri, where curfews were then imposed. These areas saw pitched battles between members of the two groups who hurled petrol bombs and opened fire. 

Police used tear gas and smoke grenades to disperse the stone-throwing crowds

Acid was thrown at the security forces from the top of the houses in Karawal Nagar. Orders to shoot the rioters on sight was issued in several localities, including Chand Bagh and Bhajanpura, with stones and other missiles hurled and shops set ablaze. Police used tear gas and smoke grenades but struggled to disperse the stone-throwing crowds. One police officer was killed in the violence after he was hit by rocks.

A Muslim man being violently beaten by a Hindu mob

Victims on both sides of the violence had suffered bullet wounds, and many had visible injuries on their heads and bodies. Several journalists covering the violence were also attacked by angry mobs at several locations. 

Tweet by @Nidhi a journalist in India

Indian website The Wire reported that Hindu rioters shouting "Jai Shri Ram" ("hail Lord Ram") paraded around a burning mosque in the Ashok Nagar area of the capital.

Torn and burnt Quran was strewn outside a mosque building

Video footage shared on social media showed a mob climbing to the top of the mosque's minaret where they attempted to plant a saffron flag, a banner associated with Hindu far-right groups.

A member of a Hindu mob was seen climbing up a minaret and planting the bhagwa flag

In the Muslim quarters, many people felt victimized and accused the government of abandoning them. This is a longstanding grievance: that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's governing political party, which is rooted in a Hindu-nationalist worldview, has taken sides and abetted violent religious extremists.

India is about 80 percent Hindu and 14 percent Muslim.

How did the Delhi riot begin?

The clashes erupted on Sunday after supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament last December, attacked anti-government protesters' sites at a road outside Jaffrabad Metro Station in North East Delhi. The CAA, dubbed "anti-Muslim", has triggered nationwide protests, especially by Muslims.

The protest took a violent turn on Monday as supporters of CAA and anti-CAA protesters clashed with each other. As Sunday evening approached, gangs of Hindu men and Muslim men began throwing rocks at each other. This quickly degenerated into wider violence, with Hindu residents accusing Muslims of attacking Hindu statues and Muslim residents expressing fear that a Hindu mob was forming to get them. The violence intensified on Tuesday, despite reinforced security in the city in view of US President Donald Trump's visit.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 was passed by the Parliament of India on 11 December 2019. It amended the Citizenship Act of 1955 by providing a path to Indian citizenship for illegal migrants of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities, who had fled persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014. Muslims from those countries were not given such eligibility.

Protesters throughout India believe the new law discriminates against Muslims and the poor who do not have access to valid proofs of citizenship, therefore they are demanding for the amendment be scrapped. They are concerned that Muslim citizens of India, and poor Indians will be rendered stateless and put into detention camps.

Hundreds of thousands of Indian Muslims have protested, joined by students, academics, human rights activists and those worried about the country’s direction. Many of them say the new law is a grave threat to India’s traditions as a secular and inclusive nation.

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