Rising injuries and death toll . . .
Communal violence in northeast New Delhi has reportedly resulted in 42 deaths and over 250 injuries after six days of unrest. Violence peaked Wednesday but reports of hostile groups roaming around the affected neighbourhoods and property damage have continued. New Delhi police have arrested or detained 630 individuals linked to the violence. The police have also faced severe criticism for failing to contain and de-escalate the violence, with witnesses also accusing police officers of idly standing by. As of Friday night, the paramilitary was deployed to affected areas to assist the police.
New citizenship law at the root of violence . . .
Violence erupted after politician Kapil Mishra, a member of the ruling pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), condemned a group blocking a major road in protest over India’s new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Mishra said his supporters would clear them out if the police did not, triggering scuffles that quickly escalated into all-out clashes between Hindus and Muslims. The Delhi riots are reminiscent of pogroms seen in the capital in 1984 when 3,000 Sikhs were killed, and also in 2002, when sectarian violence in Gujarat claimed the lives of 1,000 people, 800 of whom were Muslims.
The rising tide of right-wing Hindu nationalism . . .
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a statement on Wednesday, appealing to his “brothers and sisters of Delhi to maintain peace.” However, his remarks have done little to assuage the increasing distrust of the country’s leadership among Muslim communities, especially as discriminatory legislations like the CAA continue to be sponsored and supported by the BJP. Distrust of the police for their inaction – perceived or real – also poses a challenge. Lastly, the hasty transfer out of Delhi of a judge critical of the violence who was hearing a petition into the religious riots has further undermined the hopes of justice for India’s religious minorities.