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Uneasy calm in Delhi as death toll rises to 38

Reuters, AFP/New Delhi
Filed on February 27, 2020
Delhi violence, riots


More than 200 people were also injured.

At least 38 people have been killed in the deadliest violence to engulf India’s capital New Delhi for decades as a heavy deployment of security forces brought an uneasy calm on Thursday.

Sporadic violence hit parts of Delhi overnight as gangs roamed streets littered with the debris of days of sectarian riots.

Thousands of riot police and paramilitaries patrolled the affected northeast fringes of the Indian capital of 20 million people, preventing any major eruptions however.

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.

Sunil Kumar, director of the Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, said on Thursday the hospital registered 34 deaths while the chief doctor at Lok Nayak Hospital said four people had died there.

“All of them (at the GTB) had gunshot injuries,” Kumar said.

Kishore Singh, medical superintendent Lok Nayak Hospital, said that 10 people were still in a serious condition there.

Delhi Police spokesman Mandeep Randhawa said that there was “no major incident” overnight, while the city’s chief fire officer Atul Garg said they received 19 distress calls.

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 the minority community 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.

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 criticised government and police inaction on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the United States on Thursday urged India to respect the right to peaceful assembly and called on all sides to refrain from violence.

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