Security forces deployed Thursday to parts of India’s capital where days of clashes between Hindus and Muslims killed at least 32 people and injured more than 200 others.
The personnel patrolled streets in northeastern New Delhi seeking to prevent new eruptions of violence after Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for calm.
Opposition leaders criticized the government for not doing enough to contain the violence, and on Thursday the main opposition Congress party called for Home Minister Amit Shah to resign, accusing him of abdicating his duty.
In a tweet Wednesday, Modi said: “Peace and harmony are central to our ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times. It is important that there is calm and normalcy is restored at the earliest.”
The clashes erupted after Muslim protesters occupied a road in a New Delhi neighborhood Saturday to protest a new citizenship law that fast-tracks Indian citizenship to immigrants from three neighboring countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan — but excludes Muslims.
The protesters call the new law outright discrimination. They also object to a proposed registry that would require all Indians to show documents to prove their citizenship.
Modi’s government has said the laws are not intended to target anyone for discrimination but are meant to ensure protection for non-Muslims who it says are persecuted in other countries.
In Washington, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent government panel, expressed “grave concern” over the violence in India.
“The brutal and unchecked violence going across Delhi cannot continue,” commissioner Anurima Bhargava said Wednesday. “Reports mounting that the Delhi police have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims and the government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens.”
Bhargava called Indian efforts to target and disenfranchise Muslims “a clear violation of international human rights.”
India’s External Affairs Ministry objected to the commission’s statement, saying it appeared to be “aimed at politicizing the issue.” It said Thursday the comments were “factually inaccurate and misleading.”