India: The worst sectarian riots in decades deepen a Hindu-Muslim divide and death toll rises to 38 in Delhi

Smoke rises from a clash in Delhi where Hindus supporting a new citizenship law faced off against Muslims opposed to it. Smoke rises from a clash in Delhi where Hindus supporting a new citizenship law faced off against Muslims opposed to it. EPA, via Shutterstock/The New York Times

28 May 2020

The tensions in India’s capital remained high due to the enactment of the new citizenship law, led to violent clashes between Muslims and Hindus

The violent clashes in Delhi between Muslims and Hindus lasted for several days since they began over on February 23rd. This riot caused many gunshot wounds and hundreds were injured. The tensions over the riot-hit areas of India’s capital remained high from days of the bloodshed. The trigger of the worst sectarian violence in the Indian capital was a citizenship law that critics say marginalizes India’s Muslim minority. Some believe that the law is biased against Muslims and undermines India’s secular constitution.

Historically, Muslims and Hindus lived and worked peacefully together for years in Yamuna Vihar where most of Delhi’s population lived. But the riots that raged through the district of Delhi have cleaved lasting divisions in the community. In other riot-hit districts of northeast Delhi, Muslims are scrambling to find jobs because many Hindus boycotted merchants and refusing to hire the Muslim community workers. This tension has heightened pressure on India’s economy in time of pandemic. Since the riots, hundreds of Muslims have fled the city and were feeling unsafe to be back. The death toll had risen to 38 by February 27th, while it continued rising from the unrest days to 53 people, mostly Muslims were killed and more than 200 were injured based on the police report.

The Prime Minister called for calm and condemned Delhi’s worst sectarian violence in decades prompting demands for a military curfew. He also declared having no prejudice against India’s 180 million Muslims, saying that law is required to help persecuted minorities. Nevertheless, many still suspect Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata party for inciting the violence. Along with it, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom also voiced “grave concern” about the violence as president Donald Trump was visiting.


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Author: Mery Ana Farida; Editor: Sara Gorelli

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