Curfew call in Indian capital after 20 die in sectarian clashes

Security personnel stand guard near burnt-out and damaged shops following clashes between people supporting and opposing a contentious amendment to India's citizenship law, in New Delhi on February 26, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 26 February 2020

Curfew call in Indian capital after 20 die in sectarian clashes

  • Clashes began on Monday between people supporting and opposing the citizenship law
  • Unrest is the worst sectarian violence seen in Delhi in decades

NEW DELHI: Riot police patrolled the streets of India’s capital on Wednesday and the city’s leader called for a curfew following battles between Hindus and Muslims that claimed at least 20 lives.
The two days of unrest — which has seen clashes between mobs armed with swords and guns — is the worst sectarian violence seen in Delhi in decades.
The clashes come amid worsening religious tensions following a citizenship law that critics say is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda.
Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, called Wednesday for the army to be deployed and for a curfew to be imposed over flashpoint northeastern districts.
“Police, despite all its efforts, (are) unable to control the situation and instill confidence,” Kejriwal tweeted on Wednesday morning.
“Army (should) be called in and curfew imposed.”
The clashes began on Monday between people supporting and opposing the citizenship law, then descended into pitched battles between the mobs.
Twenty people died and nearly 200 others were wounded in the first two days of violence, the director of the hospital where people were taken, told AFP on Wednesday.
Sixty people had suffered gunshot wounds, according to the director, Sunil Kumar.
The area is home to mostly poorer economic migrants living in many shanty neighborhoods, and some fled on Wednesday ahead of more expected clashes.
“People are killing (each other). Bullets are being fired here,” a tailor in the Jaffrabad area told AFP, adding that he was returning home to his village in northern Uttar Pradesh state.
“There is no work... It is better to leave than to stick around here. Why would we want to die here?“
On Wednesday morning AFP saw people cleaning out the blackened and trashed interior of a mosque in the Ashok Nagar area burned out during the violence.
A video circulated on social media and verified by AFP showed men ripping off the muezzin’s loudspeaker on top of the mosque’s minaret and placing a Hindu religious flag and an Indian flag.
The new citizenship law has raised worries abroad that Modi wants to remold secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalizing the country’s 200 million Muslims, a claim he denies.
The law expedites the citizenship applications for persecuted minorities from India’s three Muslim-majority neighboring countries, but not if they are Muslim.
The flare-up in violence occurred as US President Donald Trump visited India and held talks with Modi in Delhi on Tuesday.
But Trump left as scheduled on Tuesday and his visit was not visibly interrupted by the violence.


Greece quarantines second camp after coronavirus case confirmed

Updated 25 min 5 sec ago

Greece quarantines second camp after coronavirus case confirmed

  • The infected man has been transferred to a hospital in Athens
  • Tests on his contacts will continue as the public health agency tries to trace the route of the virus

ATHENS: Greece has quarantined a second migrant facility this week after a 53-year-old man tested positive for coronavirus, the migration ministry said on Sunday. Tha Afghan man, who was found to be infected, lives with his family at the Malakasa camp along with hundreds of other migrants and asylum seekers. He has been transferred to a hospital in Athens. Tests on his contacts will continue as the public health agency tries to trace the route of the virus.
On Thursday, authorities quarantined the Ritsona camp in central Greece after 20 asylum seekers tested positive for coronavirus. It was the first such facility in Greece to be hit since the outbreak of the disease.
The camp in Malakasa, 40km northeast of Athens, will be put into quarantine for two weeks, the ministry said, adding that police guarding the site would be reinforced.
A new separate closed-type facility started operating last month for migrants who arrived after March 1, the ministry said.