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Tension in India after bloody sectarian violence in New Delhi

INDIA, NEW DELHI (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Tensions prevail in India Thursday as a result of sectarian violence that killed 33 people in New Delhi, in the context of the escalating division in this country in southern Asia and ruled by Hindu nationalists headed by Narendra Modi.

Rioters armed with rocks, swords, and sometimes pistols, have sowed chaos and fear since Sunday in the popular suburbs in the northeast of the capital, 10 kilometers from the center. Clashes developed against the background of a controversial law on nationality into clashes between Hindus and Muslims.

Some isolated incidents occurred on the night of Wednesday-Thursday in the big city, but a great new wave of confrontation did not happen with that. On Wednesday, the authorities deployed a large number of police and paramilitary personnel, equipped with heavy riot equipment.

Sunil Kunar, director of a major hospital in the area, confirmed to AFP that he had counted 30 people at his facility. Another hospital has reported 3 deaths related to the riots.

More than 200 people were injured, most of them shot. This wave of sectarian violence, in which 100 people have been arrested by the police, is the worst in the capital since the massacres of Sikhs in 1984 that occurred in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

According to a list of the names of the dead in the main hospital, seen by France Press, the number of Muslim and Hindu victims seemed to be almost equal.

During the incidents, Hindu armed groups attacked sites and people known as Muslims, chanting the Hindu religious “Jay Shri Ram” slogan (the slogan of supplication to the Hindu god Ram).

Many mosques were burned in the area. A Hindu flag was hoisted to the minarets of a mosque that had been vandalized, as witnessed by a journalist in France Press.

On Thursday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michel Bachelet, expressed her concern “from information indicating that the police did not act against other groups’ attacks against Muslims.”

Transfer of a judge –

Tension remains prevalent in the areas that witnessed Thursday’s violence, as well as a lack of confidence. A team from France Press has faced very hostile reactions from residents of the area.

In the Ashok Nagar neighborhood, which is inhabited mainly by Hindus, rioters burned the homes of Muslim families.

“No one (from the government) came to help us. Our Hindu neighbors are the ones who helped us. They helped us to put out the fire. They brought water containers, they brought us tea. They constantly ask us if we need something,” said Belqis, a mother of seven whose house was severely damaged.

Violence erupted on Sunday evening when Hindu groups protested to Muslims against a controversial nationality law. This law, which critics consider discriminatory against Muslims, is behind a protest movement that has prevailed in India since December.

The law reinforced the concerns of the Muslim minority, which is 200 million people out of 1.3 billion people in India, of converting Muslims into second-class citizens in a country where Hindus constitute 80% of the population, and in recent years is experiencing political and religious tension.

Opponents of Narendra Modi accuse the prime minister of wanting to completely transform secular India into a Hindu country. Modi, who came to power in 2014, was re-elected by an overwhelming majority last year. On Wednesday, he called on all citizens to “peace and fraternity”.

His opponents, in particular, point the finger at the fiery speech that his party officials adopted during the local election campaign in Delhi early this year.

Officials from the “Bharatiya Janata” party described the demonstrators against the citizenship law as “jihadists”, and some called for their imprisonment or killing.

On Wednesday, a judge in the Delhi High Court strongly criticized the police, and called on them to investigate officials of the “Bharatiya Janata” party accused of fanning hate. This judge transferred at night to a court in another state, which sparked intense controversy.

The Minister of Justice said it was nothing more than a “routine procedure”.

“There is no doubt that the state was able to stop the violence faster if it wanted to,” he said, expressing concern that this would be “a prelude to a massacre, or at least isolation.” For Muslims in India.

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