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Violence erupted in New Delhi just hours before U.S. President Donald Trump was due to arrive in the Indian capital, as rival groups protested the country’s contentious religion-based citizenship law.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters and imposed curfew-like restrictions in Delhi’s northeast, with demonstrators both for and against the law throwing stones and setting vehicles and shops on fire, television footages showed. A policeman was killed and another injured in the clashes, according to reports from the Press Trust of India.
Delhi Police appealed for calm and said in a statement they were “making every effort to restore normalcy.”
Trump arrives in Delhi on Monday evening after visiting the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra. The U.S. leader began his two-day trip to India in the western city of Ahmedabad earlier Monday, where he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a crowd together at what’s billed as the world’s largest cricket stadium.
Delhi has already witnessed several shooting attacks near an area where thousands of people staged a months-long demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The push-back against the law has been Modi’s biggest challenge since he first came to power in 2014.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said there was “very distressing news regarding disturbance of peace and harmony in parts of Delhi,” and urged in a tweet for law and order to be restored.
The new religion-based citizenship act, which was passed by an overwhelming majority in the Parliament, fast-tracks citizenship for religious minorities from three neighboring countries, but excludes Muslims. Protesters say the law undermines India’s secular constitution while the government says its aim is to protect persecuted minorities.
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