Protests have frequently broken out against a law that offers a path to citizenship for minorities excluding Muslims, leaving at least 30 people killed in clashes with police. Critics say the law discriminates against Muslims.

People supporting the new citizenship law beat a Muslim man during a clash with those opposing the law in New Delhi, India. February 24, 2020.
People supporting the new citizenship law beat a Muslim man during a clash with those opposing the law in New Delhi, India. February 24, 2020. (Danish Siddiqui / Reuters)

At least seven people, including a police officer, were killed and around 150 were injured in clashes between hundreds of supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law in India, police said on Tuesday.

India has been rocked by violence since Parliament approved a the controversial law in December that provides fast-track naturalisation for some foreign-born religious minorities but not Muslims. Critics say the law is discriminatory.

The clashes occurred in New Delhi on Monday, a day before President Donald Trump was to visit the capital. The violence took place as Trump was being feted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad.

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pose as they tour the historic Taj Mahal, in Agra, India. February 24, 2020.
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pose as they tour the historic Taj Mahal, in Agra, India. February 24, 2020. (Reuters)

There were no protests in New Delhi on Tuesday, when Modi was hosting Trump in the capital for the official portion of his visit to India.

During Monday's protests, police fired tear gas and used canes as they charged at the protesters in several districts of New Delhi. The rival groups hurled rocks at each other in the area and set some houses, shops, vehicles and a gasoline pump on fire. Police closed access to two metro stations in the area.

Police spokesman Anil Kumar confirmed seven deaths in the violence. The Press Trust of India news agency said about 50 protesters were wounded.

One police officer was killed in the violence after he was hit by rocks, police officer Anuj Kumar said.

Eleven police officers were injured as they were hit by rocks trying to separate rival groups, police said.

Also Monday, Hindu nationalist and communist groups held pro- and anti-US street demonstrations in the capital.

Critics say the country is moving toward a religious citizenship test. At a massive rally in Ahmedabad after Trump's arrival on Monday, the president praised India's history of religious tolerance, saying many faiths "worship side by side in harmony.”

Trump's India visit moves from pomp to trade, military talks

President Donald Trump's two-day visit to India delved into substance Tuesday after opening with a heavy dose of pomp and pageantry, even as few concrete accomplishments were expected from the whirlwind trip.

Trump kicked off his second day on the subcontinent with an elaborate outdoor welcome ceremony in front of the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan Presidential Palace in New Delhi.

The president's armored car, nicknamed "The Beast," was welcomed with cannon fire as it passed through the palace gates, accompanied by a parade of red-uniformed guards on horseback. The ceremony included hundreds of military officials, marching with instruments and swords, as well as an official greeting by India's president and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Trump and Modi are expected to talk trade and other issues Tuesday as part of a jam-packed day in the nation's capital that will include a joint statement with Modi, meetings with business leaders and embassy officials, a visit to a memorial to independence leader Mohandas Gandhi, a news conference and an opulent state dinner before Trump boards his flight back to the US.

But Trump has made clear that little progress is expected on the trade front, despite rising tensions between the countries since the Trump administration imposed tariffs on Indian steel and aluminium exports.

India responded with higher penalties on agricultural goods and restrictions on US medical devices, prompting the US to remove India from a decades-old preferential trade program.

While the issue is expected to be discussed, Trump told reporters Monday that he was in "no rush” for progress as the two nations.

Eyes also will be on whether Trump criticizes Modi over a new citizenship law that provides a fast track to naturalization for some migrants who entered the country illegally while fleeing religious persecution, but excludes Muslims, raising fears that the country is moving toward a religious citizenship test.

Trump has typically refrained from publicly rebuking world leaders for human rights abuses during his overseas trips and on Monday spoke at length about measures his administration had taken to combat the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Trump's comments came during a mega-rally in the world's largest cricket stadium — part of an elaborate welcome for a president who revels in pomp and pageantry.

People listen as US President Donald Trump speaks during a
People listen as US President Donald Trump speaks during a "Namaste Trump" event with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium, in Ahmedabad, India. February 24, 2020. (Al Drago / Reuters)

Everywhere he went, Trump was greeted by thousands of cheering Indian citizens, troops of traditional dancers and roadways lined with posters and billboards celebrating his visit. Trump and first lady Melania Trump also took part in a stunning sunset tour of the famed Taj Mahal.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies