NEW DELHI, India, May 22, Reuter: Gunfire echoed through Delhi’s old walled city today as troops with shoot on sight orders were called out to crush large-scale rioting.

Witnesses said crowds were rampaging through at the old city looting, sacking and burning shops in what appeared a repeat of Hindu Moslem riots in which two people were killed on Monday.

A police spokesman said at least 64 people had been injured and nine were in critical condition.

A newspaper photographer at the scene said he heard shooting, apparently from the rioters, and saw people being stabbed in the street. He believed several people may have been killed in the clashes.

The Press Trust of India (PTI) said police also opened fire to disperse stone throwing rioters in three crowded districts including the neighborhood of Jama Masjid, Delhi’s huge 16th century mosque.

There was no immediate indication whether the army had opened fire.

Parts of the walled city had been under curfew since Monday’s riots but curfew was relaxed during the day to allow Moslems to go to Jama Masjid for prayers marking the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.

A police spokesman said violence broke out shortly after prayers at the mosque ended. He said police had fired about 20 shots and dozens of tear gas grenades, 85 rioters had been arrested and the injured included 10 policemen.

The Delhi violence erupted as troops and police sealed off the northern city of Meerut where four days of Hindu Moslem clashes have cost nearly 50 lives.

In Meerut, charred remains of shops and houses stood testimony to the savage fighting.

A military force of 1,200 backed up 4,500 police and an army commander told Reuters: “We are here at present to assist the civilian authorities. But if the situation gets worse. we will take over”.

Article extracted from this publication >>  May 29, 1987