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Opposition Blames Government for New Delhi Rioting That Killed 52

FILE - Police detain an activist of the youth wing of India's main opposition Congress party during a protest demanding the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah, in New Delhi, March 2, 2020. The protests followed clashes in the city in late February.

India's powerful lower house of Parliament on Wednesday debated the worst Hindu-Muslim violence in decades in the Indian capital, with an angry opposition demanding a judicial probe and the resignation of the home minister for the police's failure to prevent the deaths of more than 50 people.

Opposition Congress party lawmakers walked out after Home Minister Amit Shah praised the police for ending the February 24-25 rioting in northeastern areas of the capital within 36 hours and preventing it from spreading across New Delhi.

The violence coincided with a state visit by U.S. President Donald Trump. Armed mobs of Muslims and Hindus threw rocks, exchanged gunfire and burned hundreds of vehicles, homes and businesses.

Shah blamed inflammatory speeches by the Congress party and some Muslim leaders for triggering the rioting. He said 52 people were killed on February 24-25 and 526 were injured. He declined to say how many were Hindus or Muslims.

FILE - Indian Home Minister Amit Shah greets reporters upon his arrival at the home ministry in New Delhi, June 1, 2019.
FILE - Indian Home Minister Amit Shah greets reporters upon his arrival at the home ministry in New Delhi, June 1, 2019.

Shah said 300 people came from neighboring Uttar Pradesh state to join the rioting. More than 2,600 people have been arrested or detained and an investigation is underway, he said.

He didn't say who allegedly brought the 300 people to New Delhi.

Asauddin Owaisi, chief of the opposition All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party, accused Hindu nationalists of spreading hatred of minority Muslims.

Citizenship law

The clashes followed an opposition protest against a new citizenship law that fast-tracks naturalization for foreign-born religious minorities of all major faiths in South Asia except Islam.

Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary, a Congress party leader, accused the police of ignoring hundreds of distress calls from people who were under attack and failing to protect them.

``In light of the scale of violence and consequent loss of lives and property, we strongly demand the resignation of the home minister,'' he said.

He also demanded a judicial probe into the failure of the police to protect people and the prosecution of some governing Bharatiya Janata Party leaders for provocative speeches against the Muslim community.

Meenakshi Lekhi, an BJP lawmaker, accused the Popular Front of India, a militant Islamic organization, and elements of the Islamic State group of organizing the violence during Trump's visit to disgrace Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.