Four more people have died in some of the worst sectarian violence in decades in New Delhi, the capital of India. A hospital source told AFP that violence against Muslims takes the death toll from several days of rioting to 17. Mosques have been burned down, and Muslims neighborhoods are under attack.
Protests against a contentious citizenship law on Sunday descended Monday and Tuesday into running battles between Hindus and Muslims, with rioters armed with stones, swords and even guns out in force.
The Editors Guild of India has expressed “serious concern” over attacks on journalists covering violent clashes in New Delhi over the country’s new citizenship law.
At least 13 people, including a police officer, have been killed as protests against the controversial law continued for a third day Tuesday.
Today in India we are seeing the Nazi-inspired RSS ideology take over a nuclear-armed state of over a billion people. Whenever a racist ideology based on hatred takes over, it leads to bloodshed.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 26, 2020
The new law guarantees Indian citizenship to non-Muslim religious minorities escaping persecution in three neighboring countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Activists and opposition politicians have described the legislation as divisive, discriminatory and against Muslims as well as the country’s secular constitution.
The clashes, which erupted Sunday in the northeast part of the capital between pro- and anti-citizenship law protesters, took a violent turn Monday when U.S. President Donald Trump kicked off a two-day maiden trip to India.
“The Editors Guild of India expresses serious concern over the manner in which journalists assigned to cover the violence in Delhi have been targeted for physical attack. There are reports of journalists being hospitalized after such attacks,” it said in a statement.
The guild noted that “journalists being attacked is tantamount to a direct assault on press freedom and those guilty of having indulged in such violence must be brought to book.”
While urging the police “to take necessary steps to provide protection to journalists and prevent any such attack in the future,” it also requested that the Home Ministry, under which the New Delhi police function, “investigate these incidents and punish the guilty. The Home Ministry must also direct the Delhi police to take appropriate action.”
Several journalists who visited northeast New Delhi to cover the violence have said that they were beaten up by rioters in the area.
Nidhi Razdan, executive editor of Indian broadcaster NDTV, said on Twitter that two of her colleagues were beaten by a mob during the clashes.
“Two of my colleagues @arvindgunasekar and @saurabhshukla_s were badly beaten by a mob just now in Delhi; they only stopped beating them after realizing they are ‘our people- Hindus’. Absolutely despicable,” she said.
Anadolu and AFP with inputs from GVS News Desk