• Thursday, Apr 02, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:39 am

Death toll rises to 37 in Delhi riot

  • Published at 11:56 am February 27th, 2020
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In this file photo taken on February 26, 2020 People inspect the remains of a burnt-out school premises following clashes between people supporting and opposing a contentious amendment to India's citizenship law, in New Delhi AFP

Meanwhile, Delhi High Court has urged police to file FIRs against those making hateful and inflammatory speeches

Death toll in worst violence in decades in India's capital New Delhi rises to 37 as opposition slams government for being “mute spectator.” A heavy deployment of security forces brought an uneasy calm on Thursday, a police official said.

Sonia Gandhi, interim president of the main opposition party Congress, criticized the federal and Delhi governments for being "mute spectators" to the violence in the capital city.

Accompanied by senior leaders, Gandhi submitted a memorandum to Indian President Ram Nath Kovind regarding the violence that started on Sunday.

The violence began over a disputed new citizenship law on Monday but led to clashes between Muslims and Hindus in which hundreds were injured. Many suffered gunshot wounds, while arson, looting and stone-throwing has also taken place.

At the heart of the unrest is a citizenship law which makes it easier for non-Muslims from some neighbouring Muslim-dominated countries to gain Indian citizenship.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the new law adopted last December is of "great concern" and she was worried by reports of police inaction in the face of assaults against Muslims by other groups.

"I appeal to all political leaders to prevent violence," Bachelet said in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Critics say the law is biased against Muslims and undermines India's secular constitution.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist BJP has denied having any prejudice against India's 180 million Muslims, saying that law is required to help persecuted minorities.

New Delhi has been the epicentre for protests against the new law, with students and large sections of the Muslim community leading the protests.

As the wounded were brought to hospitals on Thursday, the focus shifted on the overnight transfer of Justice S Muralidhar, a Delhi High Court judge who was hearing a petition into the riots and had criticized government and police inaction on Wednesday.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the transfer was routine and had been recommended by the Supreme Court collegium earlier this month.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation in a two-part tweet condemned the violence in Delhi, "expressing its sincere condolences to the families of the victims" and describing the acts as "heinous."

Hindu and Muslim communities in a Delhi neighbourhood have erected barricades, Scroll.in editor Supriya Sharma posted on Twitter, with pictures showing the barricades.

"This is a view of Brahmpuri road in Delhi. On one side mostly Hindu homes, on the other, Muslim. Both communities have put up barricades. To keep the other out," the tweet said.

India’s secondary education board has postponed class 10 and 12 exams scheduled on February 28, 29 in violence-hit northeast Delhi, local media reported.

Hindu man saves Muslim neighbours from torched house

There were moments when few people came out of their way to support those in need and offered help in every difficult situation during protests. In one such case, a Hindu man saved his of his six Muslim neighbours from being burnt to death when an angry mob set their houses on fire, reports India Times.

As soon as Premkant Baghel saw his neighbour's house set afire, he rushed to their help.

Miscreants threw petrol bombs and set Muslim houses ablaze. When Baghel found out about the incident, he ventured out to save the lives of people trapped inside the burning house.

Baghel, risking his own life, saved six of his neighbours from being burnt to death in the fire.

Meanwhile, he was injured, suffering severe burns, while saving his friend's aged mother who was trapped inside.

Even though Baghel saved several lives, no one offered a vehicle to take him to a hospital. The neighbours called an ambulance but the vehicle never reached.

Baghel spent the entire night in his house with 70% burns. His friends and family had given up hope. In the morning, he was taken to Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, where he was given immediate medical attention.

Delhi Gurdwaras also had opened their doors to Muslim families who were forced to leave their homes. There were even offered food and other help to survive the turmoil.