Protests against naturalization law: violence overshadows trump visit

Violent clashes broke out again in India’s capital Delhi on Monday and Tuesday. Several people died.

Opponents clash with sticks: supporters and opponents of the citizenship bill in Delhi Photo: Danish Siddiqui/reuters

People fleeing can be seen behind clouds of smoke. A man opened fire on a policeman. Suddenly on Monday, the news channels switched from the pompous reception of the U.S. president at the cricket station in Ahmedabad to scenes of violence in Delhi’s northeast. For there new protests against the naturalization law CAA turned again into violence.

A policeman was reportedly killed by stone throwing, and several civilians were also killed. The dpa reports with reference to the police of a total of ten fatalities, at least 100 people were seriously injured.

In the evening, a tire market in a Muslim-majority neighborhood was set on fire. According to the NDTV news channel, there was unrelenting violence and vandalism for over 24 hours. Stores were vandalized and people were beaten with sticks.

On social networks, the corresponding images caused outrage. Journalist Nidhi Razdan tweeted that these are not images you want to show when the U.S. president is in the country.

"Violence can never be justified"

Some politicians like Rahul Gandhi joined in with criticism. "Today’s violence (…) must be unequivocally condemned. Peaceful protests are a sign of a healthy democracy, but violence can never be justified," he tweeted.

Here, the violence apparently came from both opponents and supporters of the controversial naturalization law. Violent clashes broke out between the two groups.

Earlier on Sunday, according to the Indian Express newspaper, Hindu nationalist politician Kapil Mishra demanded that demonstrating opponents of the bill leave the site at a rally in support of the bill near the Jaffrabad metro station, where violence escalated. Otherwise, he said, he would remove them.

Protests against the law have been going on in India for two months. In Delhi, metro stations were blocked in the meantime. Journalists also reported attacks.

Opposition politician Yogendra Yadav on Monday urged the anti-CAA movement not to launch new protests. Home Minister Amit Shah of the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP called for peace. Later in the evening, he met with Delhi’s chief minister Kejriwal of the opposition AAP party.

Already 25 dead since protest began

But on Tuesday morning, there were also rallies at the same place. At least 25 people have died since protests began in December against the law, which is aimed at the BJP government’s Hindu nationalist policies.

In particular, the country’s 200 million Muslims, the largest minority, are facing increasing pressure. Many Indians see the law as discriminatory. This is because it only makes it easier for non-Muslim immigrants from India’s majority-Muslim neighboring countries to naturalize.

U.S. President Donald Trump agreed an arms deal with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Tuesday that includes 24 Seahawk helicopters, Hellfire missiles and an option for 6 Apache attack helicopters.