Huge pro- and anti-American protests have ripped through India’s capital city, New Delhi, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi paraded US President Donald Trump across the country on Monday (Feb. 24).
Trump, fêted around Ahmedabad, was a polarising topic in India as the two leaders prepare to culminate the controversial working visit with a joint news conference on Tuesday.
According to local reports, three people have been killed, among them is one police officer.
But as the Modi’s display favoured pageantry over policy, Hindu nationalist and communist groups clashed in the streets.
For the Hindu nationalists, a prayer meeting on the streets celebrated Trump as priests blessing photographs of him. Fawning over Trump’s visit, they are wishing the president every success in his endeavour for strong ties with India.
On the other side of New Delhi, dozens of supporters of the Communist Party of India bore a banner reading “Trump go back.” Anti-Trump street demonstrations also broke out in the cities of Gauhati in the northeast, Kolkata in the east and Hyderabad in the south.
For the Indian communists, Trump’s presence hints on Modi succumbing to US pressure on access to the Indian market rather than protecting India’s interests.
Caught between both groups, riot police fired tear gas as clashes erupted between hundreds of supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law that provides fast-track naturalization for some foreign-born religious minorities but not Muslims.
With varying degrees of success, police used tear gas as the rival groups hurled rocks at each other in the area on Monday. The groups set some houses, shops, vehicles and a petrol pump on fire.
Access to two metro stations in the area were shut down as a precautionary measure, as New Delhi’s highest elected official, Arvind Kejriwal, tweeted that the violence was “very distressing.”