Death toll Rises drastically in India in violent clashes, calls for Curfew and Army deployment in New Delhi

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Death toll Rises drastically in India in violent clashes, calls for Curfew and Army deployment in New Delhi

NEW DELHI: Riot police patrolled the streets of India´s capital on Wednesday and the city´s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for a curfew following clashes 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 case of anti-Muslim 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 situation and instil 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 neighbourhoods, 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 remould secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalising 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 neighbouring 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. Modi govt issues media advisory

The Indian government issued an advisory to television channels, directing them to be cautious while airing content that incited violence and promoted anti-national attitudes amid deadly violence in New Delhi in the last three days, reported the *Hindustan Times. *

While the US President Donald Trump was on a two-day visit to hold talks with Modi, pictures and videos from the affected areas showed horrific scenes forcing the authorities to issue directives to the media.

The Indian government has instructed news channels that they must be cautious about airing content that incited violence and promoted anti-national attitudes.

“It is hereby reiterated that all TV channels are advised to be particularly cautious with regard to any content which is likely to encourage or incite violence, or contains anything against the maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national attitudes,” the advisory said.

The advisory also impressed upon private channels to be cautious of content that contains attack on religious or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religions groups or which promote communal attitudes.

It also cautioned against content that may carry “defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendos and half truths”. The advisory asked channels to ensure that no content is telecast which is violative of the Programme and Advertising Codes as prescribed in the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995.

US lawmaker concerned over violence

The violence in New Delhi drew sharp reactions from US lawmakers soon after Trump concluded his India visit.

Reacting to the violence, US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said the "deadly surge of religious intolerance in India is horrifying". -APP/AFP