Protests against India’s new citizenship law have escalated as 13 people were killed and more than 150 injured in violent clashes in the country’s capital.
It comes as US President Donald Trump met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a two-day visit to India in which he saw a “good deal” of the country and achieved a lot of “productive work”.
The comments were made as Mr Trump concluded his visit, saying America’s relationship with India has “never been better”.
But Mr Modi’s relationship with his own people has never been rockier as violence erupted in multiple areas of northeast Delhi on Tuesday (local time), just kilometres from where he and Mr Trump met for talks.
One policeman and 12 civilians were killed during demonstrations in India’s capital, as opposing groups threw stones at each other and security forces.
Indian police fired tear gas to disperse the hundreds of protesters during Tuesday’s violent clashes which resulted in more than 150 injuries.
They are considered the deadliest protests to have rocked New Delhi in decades.
The Indian captial has been a focus of unrest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, which makes it easier for non-Muslims from three neighbouring Muslim-dominated countries to gain Indian citizenship.
Asked about the rising attacks, Mr Trump said: “I had very powerful answer from PM Modi”.
“He told me that they are working very closely with minorities in India … PM Modi said that there are 200 million Muslims in India and that his government is working closely with the minorities.”
Local TV channels showed huge clouds of smoke billowing from a tyre market that had been set ablaze and Reuters witnesses saw mobs wielding sticks and stones walking down streets in parts of northeast Delhi, amid further incidents of stone-throwing.
Hindutva terrorists burnt down a mosque in North Delhi after vandalizing and putting Hanuman flag on top!
— Zartaj Gul Wazir (@zartajgulwazir) February 25, 2020
Some of those protesting the citizenship law alleged that Mr Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters were targeting Muslims and instigating the violence.
“We have no weapons, but they are firing at us,” said Mohammad Shakir, a demonstrator opposed to the law.
“This BJP is targeting Muslims. They want to turn India into a Hindu country.”
A 3 month pregnant woman Rubina Bano was beaten up police men and a violent mob when she went out to pick up her daughter from School.#DelhiBurning#DelhiRiots#DelhiViolence @asadowaisi pic.twitter.com/7TaYWnubHt
— §umaiya khan❤ (@pathan_sumaya) February 25, 2020
The Hindu nationalist BJP denies any bias against India’s more than 180 million minority Muslims.
An official at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in New Delhi said 13 people had died there and more than 150 injured had been treated at the hospital, many for bullet wounds.
An official at the Al-Hind Hospital in New Delhi said two men had died and more than 200 injured had been treated there.