NEW DELHI: Indian citizens took to the streets of New Delhi on Monday over a contentious citizenship law, hours before US President Donald Trump is to arrive in the Indian capital.
India has seen weeks of demonstrations and violence since a new citizenship law — that critics say discriminates against Muslims — came into force in December.
The latest unrest erupted between several hundred supporters and opponents of the law in a Muslim-dominated area of northeast Delhi on Sunday, and continued into Monday with police seeking to restore order.
The Press Trust of India said protesters torched at least two houses and a fire engine, with local TV channels showing plumes of black smoke billowing from buildings. And two Indian newspapers reported online that a police officer had died.
Riot police fired tear gas and conducted baton charges, local media said.
Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, tweeted: “Very distressing news regarding disturbance of peace and harmony in parts of Delhi coming in.”
Very distressing news regarding disturbance of peace and harmony in parts of Delhi coming in.
I sincerely urge Hon’ble LG n Hon'ble Union Home Minister to restore law and order n ensure that peace and harmony is maintained. Nobody should be allowed to orchestrate flagrations.
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 24, 2020
He urged the home minister to “restore law and order” and ensure “peace and harmony is maintained.”
Trump arrived in the western state of Gujarat on Monday and addressed a huge rally with Prime Minister Narendra Modi before he visited the Taj Mahal monument.
The US president was due in Delhi on Monday evening before official talks in the city on Tuesday.
The new law has raised worries abroad — including in Washington — that Modi wants to remould secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalising the country’s 200 million Muslims.
A senior US official told reporters Trump would raise concerns about religious freedom in the Hindu-majority nation during the trip, calling them “extremely important to this administration”.