New Delhi: After two days of rampant violence in northeast Delhi that has seen 13 die and more than 150 hurt, a shoot-at-sight order has been issued in the affected areas, police sources said on Tuesday.
According to sources in Delhi Police's north-east district department, the shoot-at-sight order was announced in Yamuna Vihar area.
Several localities, including Chand Bagh, Bhajanpura, Maujpur-Babarpur, and Jafrabad witnessed violence as pro- and anti-CAA protesters clashed.
Several incidents of firing by protestors as well as security forces were reported on Monday and Tuesday, as well as frequent instances of stone pelting and vandalism.
At least 13 have lost their lives during the clashes, while over a 186 others have incurred injuries during the riots.
Earlier in the day, the Union Home Ministry appointed senior IPS officer S.N. Srivastava the Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) to contain the law and order crisis in the national capital as it found that the serving officers were unable to control the situation which was deteriorating by the day.
Protests against a contentious citizenship law began on a smaller scale Sunday but descended Monday and Tuesday into running battles between Hindus and Muslims in New Delhi's northeast, where rioters armed with stones, swords and even guns were out in force.
Police on Tuesday imposed a restriction on large gatherings in the area as the violence continued with reports of stone pelting and more structures set ablaze.
"I can now confirm 13 deaths. At least 150 people have come to our hospital with injuries," Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital official Rajesh Kalra told AFP late Tuesday.
Delhi Police spokesman Mandeep Randhawa pleaded with locals "not to take the law in their own hands" and said authorities would crack down on troublemakers.
Police imposed a restriction on large gatherings in the area - on the northeastern fringe of the megacity - as the violence continued on Tuesday with reports of stone pelting and more structures set ablaze.
"I appeal to everyone to stop the violence. This madness has to stop," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who visited the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital on Tuesday where many of the injured were taken, told reporters.
Broadcaster NDTV said three of its reporters and a cameraman were attacked by a mob on the northeastern fringe of the city of 20 million people.
"There is hardly any police presence in the area. Rioters are running around threatening people, vandalising shops," a resident of the poor, migrant neighbourhood of Maujpur told PTI.
At Jaffrabad, an AFP reporter saw locals turn off their lights at home and lock their buildings amid a massive police presence.
Police manning barricades said mobs in the area were threatening journalists and that their officers had come under attack through the day.
The clashes erupted in a northeastern district of the city between thousands of people demonstrating for and against the new citizenship law. 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.
“Some of the people brought in had gunshot wounds,” said Dr Rajesh Kalra, additional medical superintendent at the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in New Delhi.
Tension in Delhi
Tensions in parts of the city remained high on Tuesday with schools remaining shut in some areas amid news reports of fresh clashes. At least five metro stations in the city were closed.
A fire department official said that its teams were responding to reports of at least eight separate cases of arson on Tuesday, linked to fresh protests in the city. One department vehicle was also torched by protesters on Monday, and a small number of firemen were injured in the violence, he added.
The violence on Monday began just as US 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.
At a press conference early on Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed for people to maintain peace, “Whatever problems people have can be resolved peacefully,” he said. “Violence will not help find a solution.”
India’s Home Minister Amit Shah met Kejriwal and police officials to discuss the situation. Kejriwal said the meeting was “positive” and that all political parties had stressed upon restoring peace.
“It was decided in the meeting that all the political parties will take requisite steps to restore peace in Delhi,” he said while addressing the media in New Delhi.
He further stated that “the police are doing their bit and Amit Shah ji has also assured that whatever force is needed, he will provide as per the requirement.”
Deployment of forces
When enquired if he will ask for the deployment of the Indian armed forces, the Delhi Chief Minister said: “If it is needed then I hope... But right now the action is being taken by the police.”
India’s capital has been a hotbed of protests against the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which eases the path of non-Muslims from three neighbouring Muslim-dominated countries to gain Indian citizenship.
This has led to accusations that Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are undermining India’s secular traditions. The BJP denies any bias against India’s more than 180 million-strong Muslim minority, but objectors have been holding protests and camping out in parts of New Delhi for two months.
The violence erupted even as Trump was praising India as being a tolerant country.
“India is a country that proudly embraces freedom, liberty, individual rights, the rule of law, and the dignity of every human being,” Trump said while addressing a rally of more than 100,000 people in Modi’s home state of Gujarat. “Your unity is an inspiration to the world.”