New Delhi: The number of deaths in Northeast Delhi violence has risen to 18, according to news agency ANI. An official from Delhi’s Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital said on Wednesday morning that five more people were brought dead to the hospital, reported ANI. More than 250 people are injured.
The clashes, worst in the capital in over two decades, started at the weekend but turned deadly on Monday after two groups protesting for and against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA clashed with each other. Both the groups were carrying swords, stones and other weapons; they also torched houses and vehicles in Maujpur, Jafrabad and other areas.
Violence erupted again on Tuesday and spread to other nearby localities, just kilometres away from where US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met for talks.
Huge clouds of smoke was seen billowing from a tyre market that had been set ablaze. The fire tenders took time to reach the spot as mobs wielding sticks and stones walked down streets.
The Centre and Delhi administration sprung into action and a series of meetings were held to find a solution to end the violence. Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired three review meetings in 24 hours and directed the Delhi Police to take quick action. He also asked for more police force to be deployed.
National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and Delhi Police chief Amulya Patnaik visited the office of North-east DCP Ved Prakash Surya in Seelampur for a meeting late on Tuesday night. Doval, accompanied by Patnaik and other senior officials visited Maujpur, Jafarabad, Gokulpuri and Bhajanpura to conduct a first-hand review of the situation.
ANI reported that Doval will be closely overseeing the police efforts to restore peace in Delhi.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also held emergency meeting with officials and MLAs of the affected areas, and directed the officials to coordinate with central agencies and end the cycle of violence. He also appealed the protesters to calm down and talk about their issues instead of indulging in violence.
Delhi has been a focus of unrest against the CAA, which makes it easier for non-Muslims from three neighbouring countries to gain Indian citizenship. It has sparked accusations that PM Modi and his BJP are undermining India’s secular traditions. The government has, however, denied all the accusations and maintained that it won’t roll back the CAA.