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India's police 'watch in silence' as Hindu mobs attack Muslims, loot businesses and desecrate mosques Open in fullscreen

Aamir Ali Bhat

India's police 'watch in silence' as Hindu mobs attack Muslims, loot businesses and desecrate mosques

Videos surfaced on social media showing Muslims leaving their homes with their belongings [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 February, 2020

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New Delhi has been rocked by anti-Muslim violence since Parliament approved a new citizenship law, as scores of Muslims are being beaten mercilessly by pro-government Hindutva mobs in recent days.

Scores of Muslims are being beaten mercilessly by pro-government Hindutva mobs, who are burning down Muslim-owned properties, including shops and houses, and desecrating Muslim religious sites, as deadly violence against India's Muslim population leaves at least 24 people dead on Wednesday, including a policeman, and more than 200 injured.

New Delhi has been rocked by anti-Muslim violence since Parliament approved a new citizenship law in December that provides rapid naturalisation for foreign-born minorities while depriving India's indigenous Muslim population of those same rights.

Videos surfaced on social media showing Muslims in northeast Delhi leaving their homes with their belongings.

The violence, the deadliest in decades in Delhi, erupted in multiple parts of northeast Delhi on Sunday but turned deadly on Monday, several hours ahead of US President Donald Trump’s arrival, who was on his first official visit to the country.

Read also: 'Namaste Trump': Modi introduces Trump to 100,000 strong crowd with 80s disco hit 'Macho Man'

On Tuesday, fresh violence broke out when armed Hindu mobs went on a rampage in parts of northeast Delhi, which has a sizeable Muslim population – just 18 kilometres away from where Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were holding talks.

A group of around 50 right-wing Hindu rioters in Mustafabad attacked the anti-CAA protest site, injuring several people including children on Tuesday evening.

Attackers armed with rods and pistols, vandalised two mosques, injuring several children sitting inside the mosques. Many of the injured had gunshot wounds, while one person died on spot, The Wire, a Delhi-based news outlet, reported

What has trigged the violence?

'A threat to the plural structure of India': Anger brews over  controversial citizenship law
Read also: 'A threat to the plural structure of India':
Anger brews over controversial citizenship law

The controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – rendered unconstitutional, anti-Muslim and a threat to the pluralist structure of India by critics – triggered massive unrest in India after it was passed in December last year. In Delhi prolonged peaceful sit-ins, mostly held by Muslims, went on for months.

On Sunday in northeast Delhi, supporters of CAA attacked anti-CAA protesters, mostly woman, who had blocked a road and were demanding revocation of the law.

A frenzied Hindu mob, armed with iron rods, sticks and stones, charged at Muslim protesters while shouting "Jai Shri Ram" or Hail Lord Ram, a Hindi deity.

Protesters alleged that a Hindu mob, accompanied by police, threw stones at them that triggered massive violence between the two groups.

Police resorted to teargas shelling but struggled to quell the rioters, who were running rampant, burning and looting shops owned by Muslims, pelting stones and thrashing people. The Hindu goons also attacked Muslim localities and vandalised mosques.

A Reuters news agency reported that the police watched as mute spectators and did little to foil the violence.

Eyewitnesses said police stood behind the goons, who were hell-bent on vandalising Muslims properties. They found police stood silent when a mob destroyed shops with Muslim names, pulled out vehicles and set them ablaze.

In some areas where section 144 – which forbids the gathering of four or more people – was imposed, Hindu mobs attacked Muslims, again while the police watched in silence.

A frenzied Hindu mob, armed with iron rods, sticks and stones, charged at Muslim protesters while shouting 'Jai Shri Ram' or Hail Lord Ram, a Hindi deity

Earlier on Sunday, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Kapil Mishra, informed anti-CAA protesters that they must vacate the peaceful sit-ins in the northeastern Jafrabad and Maujpur areas of Delhi.

Accompanied by pro-CAA protesters and flanked by the deputy commissioner of police in northeast Delhi, Mishra gave a three-day ultimatum to the police to clear the road where anti-CAA protesters were sitting, or else he would "handle the matter himself".

Many critics and opposition leaders have criticised Mishra for his speech that allegedly provoked the violence, claiming many lives and leaving scores of people, mostly Muslims, homeless.

However, Mishra, in a series of tweets said he has received multiple death threats. "I have received death threats and some people are abusing me," Mishra said. "But, I am not scared because I have not done anything wrong by supporting the CAA."

According to a report by The Caravan, a Delhi-based magazine, Hindu mobs attacked Muslims in areas that fall in the constituency represented by Modi's BJP in the parliament.

Another local area where Hindu mobs went on their deadly rampage falls in the assembly constituencies recently won by the BJP in elections.

Hindu mobs attacked Muslims in areas that fall in the constituency represented by Modi's BJP

In the Ashok Nagar area of Delhi, a mosque was set on fire by right-wing Hindu goons. In another video footage, a man is seen climbing up the minaret, attempting to place a Hindu nationalist flag atop it. The mob then paraded around the mosque and burnt down shops around it, The Wire reported.

On Monday, a Mazar (a mausoleum or shrine in the Muslim world) was set on fire by a group of pro-government Hindutva rioters who openly accepted they had in a video, with their faces blurred.

In another video, verified by AltNew, a fact-checking website, a group of injured protesters lying on the roadside were being beaten and forced to sing the Indian national anthem by the police. 

In some videos, the police were visibly seen taking sides and helping the goons attacking Muslims. "Go ahead and throw stones," a policeman was seen shouting to the supporters of CAA.

"We are planning to leave Delhi if the violence does not stop. We feel scared, anything can happen anytime as violence against Muslims is going unabated," a group of Muslim students told The New Arab.

Delhi's Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, called on people to maintain law and order. He said the situation in Delhi is "alarming and the army should be brought in to control further riots."

Before meeting Amit Shah, India’s home minister on Tuesday, Kejriwal claimed that the police could not do anything because they were not getting orders from the seniors.

However, the Union Home Ministry, under whom Delhi's police forces work, ruled out calling the army, saying adequate forces and police are on the ground. 

Denying allegations that not enough forces are present on ground to control the situation, a Delhi police official said, "We have enough forces on the ground. Senior police officials are constantly monitoring the situation. The home ministry is continuously supporting us."

All the private and government schools in northeast Delhi were closed following orders released by the Delhi government.

On Wednesday Modi appealed for calm, saying agencies are working on the ground "to ensure peace and normalcy."

Media and journalists attacked

Scores of journalists covering the incidents of violence claimed that they were attacked by the frenzied mobs, who were taking their equipment, checking photos and videos and asking them to prove their religion.

Modi's Crusade: Citizenship Amendment Bill paves the way for an India without Islam
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Bill paves the way for an India without Islam
 

Akash, a correspondent for JK 24×7 was shot at in east Delhi’s Maujpur, while covering the violence. He was rushed to nearby hospital in a serious condition.

Times of India, one of the leading English-language daily newspapers, published a first-hand account by a photojournalist, who surrounded by a Hindu mob trying to snatch his camera and asking him to "prove his religion."

"They threatened to take off my pants to confirm my religion. I then folded my hands and said I was just a photographer," he wrote.

Another account by female journalist published by Firstpost revealed the horrific violence going on in northeast Delhi areas, where she wrote about being chased by the Hindu mobs, only narrowly escaping.

Two journalists belonging to the NDTV news channel were also badly beaten on Tuesday morning.

President Trump, who held bilateral meetings with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, declined to comment on the situation.

"I don't want to discuss that. I want to leave that to India and hopefully they're going to make the right decision for the people," he said.

Amnesty International on Monday said that "anti-Muslim sentiment permeates" the policies of both United States and Indian leaders, who share values of "bigotry and hostility", in a joint statement ahead of Trump's visit.

Aamir Ali Bhat is a Kashmir-based freelance journalist who reports on human rights abuses, culture and the environment. He writes for The New Arab, Kashmir Ink and Free Press Kashmir.

Follow him on Twitter: @Aamirbhatt3

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