13 dead in New Delhi clashes amid Trump's visit

13 dead in New Delhi clashes amid Trump's visit

At least 13 people, including one police officer, have been killed in two days of violent clashes in the Indian capital between hundreds of supporters and opponents of a new law that fast-tracks citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from select countries.

The unrest erupted in parts of New Delhi on Monday, several hours ahead of the arrival of US President Donald Trump, who is in India on a state visit.

Police deployed tear gas in affected areas, as protesters hurled stones and set numerous vehicles and a gasoline pump on fire, according to police. The violence took place in East Delhi, approximately 11 miles from where Trump is holding talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi's highest elected official, tweeted that the violence was "very distressing" and requested that "peace and harmony" be restored.

As of Tuesday, 150 people were in hospital with various blunt force and bullet injuries, according to a medical officer, who did not want to be named. Fifty of those wounded were from firearm injuries, the medical officer said.

Thirteen people have been declared dead, including a police officer who died from a bullet injury to the head.

Months of protests

For months, Indians have been protesting over the controversial law, which gives Indian citizenship to asylum seekers from three neighboring countries -- but not if they are Muslim. A number of people have died as part of the ongoing clashes.

Opposition parties say the law is unconstitutional as it bases citizenship on a person's religion and would further marginalize India's 200-million strong Muslim community.

Clashes broke out in Maujpur, New Delhi, between supporters and opponents of India's new controversial citizenship law.

The government, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the law seeks to protect religious minorities who fled persecution in their home countries.

There has also been pushback from indigenous groups in India's northeastern states, who fear that giving citizenship to large numbers of immigrants would change the unique ethnic make-up of the region and their way of life, regardless of religion.

The latest bout of violence comes as Trump visits India for the first time as US President, a much-anticipated event intended to bolster US-India relations.

Speaking to the media in New Delhi on Tuesday, Trump said that he had not raised the clashes with his counterpart, Prime Minister Modi, but that they had discussed religious freedom.

Modi has been accused of taking steps to move India away from secularism and toward a Hindu state, including the citizenship bill. Trump did not seem concerned with the specifics of those steps, saying instead that Modi wants "religious freedom very strongly."-CNN