United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed deep grieve as the number of deaths in New Delhi’s ongoing anti-Muslim violence climbed to 24 and he calls for “maximum restrain” in dealing with the worsening situation.
UN Secretary Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in response to a question at the regular noon briefing at UN headquarters in New York, “he is very saddened by the reports of casualties following the protests in New Delhi and, as he has done in similar circumstances, calls for maximum restraint and for violence to be avoided.”
Muslims were under attack and forced to flee from their homes and several mosques in the capital smoldered after being attacked by Hindu mobs.
The deathly clashes between Hindu and Muslim groups that began on Sunday continued into their forth consecutive day, with reports of early morning looting on some Muslim homes which had been abandoned out of fear.
More than 200 people were admitted to hospitals for injuries mainly from gunshot wounds as well as acid burns, stabbings and wounds from beatings and stone pelting. Several of those who died had jumped from high buildings to escape the attacking mobs.
On Wednesday, according to one report, an intelligence bureau officer was declared among the dead in the clashes, after his body was found in a drain in the Chand Bagh area. It followed the death of a police officer on Monday after he was hit in the head with a stone.
Police said they had arrested 106 people in connection with the violence, which were triggered after attacks on sit-ins against a new citizenship law..
Reports from Delhi said several Muslim-populated areas in the city were attacked, with an Al-Jazeera report accusing the Indian police of looking the other way while Muslims and their properties were targeted.
Muslims say the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu supremacist agenda and is against the country’s secular ethos.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal described the situation as “alarming” and said the army should be called to take control of the violence.
“Situation alarming,” he said in a tweet. “Police, despite all its efforts, unable to control situation and instill confidence. Army should be called in and curfew imposed in rest of affected areas immediately.”
On Tuesday afternoon, a violent Hindu mob of around 500 young men descended on to a mosque in Ashok Nagar, broke down the doors and climbed the minaret to fly a Hindu flag. They then set the mosque alight. Later in the evening, another smaller mosque and Muslim shops in the local market were burned.
A local Muslim, who asked not to be named out of fear for his safety, described how the mob had set about destroying the mosque for over three hours, shouting Hindu nationalist slogans as they went. “They came in the afternoon and burned everything inside and then they looted and burned the shop inside the mosque and then two Muslim houses next door,” he told the Guardian, the British newspaper.
“I do not even know what to say. In 35 years I have never seen a situation like this, Hindus and Muslims always lived peacefully here. We all celebrated Eid and Diwali together. Hindu women often came into the mosque with their children, so this was not just a building for Muslims but for the whole community. But whatever peace we had is now gone.”