The death toll from the worst religious violence in Delhi in decades has risen to 24, as Muslims fled from their homes and several mosques in the capital smouldered after being attacked by Hindu mobs.
The deathly clashes between Hindu and Muslim groups that began on Sunday continued into their forth consecutive day, with reports of early morning looting on some Muslim homes which had been abandoned out of fear.
More than 200 people were admitted to hospitals for injuries mainly from gunshot wounds as well as acid burns, stabbings and wounds from beatings and stone pelting. Several of those who died had jumped from high buildings to escape the attacking mobs.
On Wednesday, an intelligence bureau officer was declared among the dead in the clashes, after his body was found in a drain in the Chand Bagh area. It followed the death of a police officer on Monday after he was hit in the head with a stone.
Police said they had arrested 106 people in connection with the violence.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal described the situation as “alarming” and said the army should be called to take control of the violence.
“Situation alarming,” he said in a tweet. “Police, despite all its efforts, unable to control situation and instil confidence. Army should be called in and curfew imposed in rest of affected areas immediately.”
On Tuesday afternoon, a violent Hindu mob of around 500 young men descended on to a mosque in Ashok Nagar, broke down the doors and climbed the minaret to fly a Hindu flag. They then set the mosque alight. Later in the evening, another smaller mosque and Muslim shops in the local market were burned.
A local Muslim, who asked not to be named out of fear for his safety, described how the mob had set about destroying the mosque for over three hours, shouting Hindu nationalist slogans as they went. “They came in the afternoon and burned everything inside and then they looted and burned the shop inside the mosque and then two Muslim houses next door,” he told the Guardian.