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Violence in Indian Capital Casts Shadow Over Trump’s Visit

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Violence in Indian Capital Casts Shadow Over Trump’s Visit

At least 10 people have been killed in Hindu-Muslim clashes in New Delhi.

Violence in Indian Capital Casts Shadow Over Trump’s Visit

A policeman walks next to a car that was vandalized during clashes between groups supporting and opposing a new citizenship law just ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to the city in New Delhi, India, Feb. 24, 2020.

Credit: AP Photo/Al-emrun Garjon

An angry group of Hindus carrying pickaxes and iron rods hurled rocks at Muslims in new violence in the Indian capital over a new citizenship law on Tuesday, with at least 10 people killed in two days of clashes that cast a shadow over U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to the country.

After his talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trump told reporters that he had heard about the violence, but did not discuss it with Modi.

Black smoke rose into the sky after Hindu protesters set fruit and vegetable shops and a Muslim shrine on fire in the Bhajanpur area in New Delhi’s northeast, witnesses said.

In addition to the 10 deaths, at least 150 people have been injured in the clashes since Monday, Sunil Kumar, the medical superintendent of Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, told reporters.

India has been rocked by violence since Parliament approved a new citizenship law in December that provides fast-track naturalization for some foreign-born religious minorities but not Muslims.

Trump declined to comment on the new law. “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.

The group of Hindus roamed the area shouting praises to Hindu gods and goddesses. Police fired tear gas to disperse them and a group of rival Muslims. They retreated to the two sides of a highway.

Also Tuesday, protesters in several other areas of northeastern New Delhi defied orders prohibiting the assembly of more than five people and threw stones and set some shops and vehicles on fire, a police officer said. Some homes were attacked with rocks.

The police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, said the situation was tense but under control. Police and paramilitary forces sent reinforcements to quell the clashes.

During Monday’s protests, police fired tear gas and used canes as they charged at protesters in several areas of New Delhi. The rival groups hurled rocks at each other and set some houses, shops, vehicles, and a gasoline pump on fire. Police closed two metro stations in the area.

One police officer was killed in the violence after he was hit by rocks, police officer Anuj Kumar said. Eleven other officers were injured by rocks as they tried to separate rival groups, police said.

Also Monday, Hindu nationalist and communist groups held pro- and anti-U.S. street demonstrations in the capital.

Critics say the country is moving toward a religious citizenship test. At a massive rally in Ahmedabad after Trump’s arrival on Monday, the president praised India’s history of religious tolerance, saying many faiths “worship side by side in harmony.”

By Sheikh Saaliq and Ashok Sharma for The Associated Press.