As President Trump Left India's Capital, Hindu-Muslim Riots Flared

Feb 26, 2020
Originally published on February 26, 2020 12:01 pm
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NOEL KING, HOST:

As President Trump was leaving the capital of India last night, riots between Hindus and Muslims broke out. This violence is happening after months of mostly peaceful protests over a new citizenship law that excludes Muslim refugees. At least 20 people have now been killed in three days of riots. NPR's Lauren Frayer is there.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in non-English language).

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Chanting Jai Shri Ram, praise Lord Ram, one of the Hindu gods, mobs torched Muslim homes across town from the luxury hotel in New Delhi where President Trump had been staying. Hindu men threw Molotov cocktails, attacked passing cars and also journalists. At least one police officer and a few Hindus are among the dead.

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FRAYER: Footage from a besieged neighborhood in northeast Delhi shows men climbing a mosque's minaret and planting an orange Hindu religious flag on top. The violence began Sunday when local officials from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party vowed to clear anti-government protesters from the capital once and for all.

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KAPIL MISHRA: (Non-English language spoken).

FRAYER: "We'll hold back only until Trump departs," Kapil Mishra, local leader of Modi's party, told his supporters Sunday. He said police had better evict protesters or else his loyalists would do it themselves, he said. And that appears to be what happened Tuesday night. Hindu mobs appear to have targeted Muslims primarily, not protesters. There are reports of people being asked their religion at makeshift roadblocks. Among those shot dead was Mohammad Furkan (ph), a father of two.

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MOHAMMAD IMRAN: (Non-English language spoken).

FRAYER: His brother, Mohammad Imran (ph), told local TV that Furkan had gone out in search of a grocery store that was open. His children were hungry, and their local market was closed because of the riots. He doesn't know whether his brother was shot in the crossfire or targeted for being Muslim.

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IMRAN: (Non-English language spoken).

FRAYER: "My world is shattered. He has two small children, a son and a daughter," the brother says. This is the Indian capital's worst sectarian violence in decades. Lauren Frayer, NPR News, Mumbai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.