At least 20 people have been killed in three days of clashes in New Delhi, with the death toll expected to rise as hospitals were overflowed with dozens of injured people .
The clashes were sparked by President Donald Trump’s first state visit to India.
New Delhi’s top elected official, Chief Minister Arjind Kerjiwal, has called for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to send the Indian army to areas in a northeastern part of the capital affected by the riots.
Police characterised the situation as tense but under control. Schools remained closed, and a ban on assembly continued.
The clashes between Hindu mobs and Muslims protesting a contentious new citizenship law that fast-tracks naturalization for foreign-born religious minorities of all major faiths in South Asia except Islam escalated Tuesday.
The mobs were wielding iron rods, bricks and bamboo sticks and attacked the homes of Muslims amid chants of “Victory to Lord Ram,” the popular Hindu god of the religious epic “Ramayana.”
An eyewitness the protesters created huge ruckus, did robberies and looted everywhere.
One of the eyewitness whose name was not mentioned said: “The protesters were in such large numbers. They came in huge numbers and set the fuel station and cars on fire. There is car showroom of Maruti there…they set that ablaze as well. They took away the cash dispensing machine, they stole the gym equipment.”
Police used tear gas and smoke grenades, but struggled to disperse the stone-throwing crowds that tore down metal barricades and set vehicles and a petrol pump alight.
The violence on Monday began just as U.S. President Donald Trump began his maiden visit to India.
Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are set to meet for talks on Tuesday at a venue located a few miles away from where the clashes occurred.
Chief Minister of New Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal said: “Hospital authorities have been directed to be prepared and work diligently. We have directed them to give the best treatment to the injured. Fire Department is facing issues to reach the affected areas, so we have directed them to coordinate with police to reach there in time.”
As Air Force One flew Trump and his delegation out of New Delhi late Tuesday, Muslim families huddled in a mosque in a northeast corner of the city, praying that Hindu mobs wouldn’t burn it down.
India’s capital has been a hotbed of protests against the new Citizenship Amendment Act, which eases the path of non-Muslims from three neighbouring Muslim-dominated countries to gain Indian citizenship.