Indonesia again flags concerns over CAA, Delhi riots

‘Public reaction to Indian events posing issue for Jakarta’

Updated - March 17, 2020 01:32 pm IST

Published - March 16, 2020 11:03 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Siddhartho Suryodipuro

Siddhartho Suryodipuro

Ties between India and Indonesia have been strained further over a series of  growing protests in Jakarta. The Indonesian government has reached out to New Delhi again to “convey concerns” over the violence in Delhi and riots that left 53 people dead, while India has demanded security assurances for the Indian embassy in Jakarta and the Indian consulate in Medan.

The message that the Widodo government in Jakarta has delivered is two fold: that it is committed to assuring safety and security for the Indian Embassy in Jakarta and the Indian consulate in Medan, while at the same time asking India to engage with the negative public perception in Indonesia.

“[Our] civil society and many organisations had a message and those messages were conveyed [to the government of India]. People have concerns, but the Indonesian govt. is confident that we are both pluralistic, democratic countries,” sources said, referring to the fact that Indonesia that has an 80% Muslim majority is also home to Buddhists and Hindus, and is not an Islamic state.

The source also added that Indonesia would not “interfere” in India’s internal issues, but that the Indonesian public’s reaction to events in India was becoming an issue for their government as well.

On March 1, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had called in Indian Ambassador Pradeep Kumar Rawat to discuss the concerns, while Indonesian Ambassador to India Sidhartho Suryodipuro has held more than one meeting with the Ministry of External Affairs to raise the issues and discuss security arrangements for the Indian missions. Mr. Rawat is also due to meet Indonesian Vice-President Maaruf Amin, an Islamic cleric, later this week.

On March 13, Jakarta saw another big gathering of protesters belonging mainly to Islamist organisations and civil society NGOs who picketed the Indian mission to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the violence in Delhi. The protests have been organised on every Friday for the three weeks, with an unprecedented 1,100 police personnel deployed to ensure the embassy’s safety.

Of particular worry was a meeting of the “Indonesian Ulema Council” (MUI) on Thursday that called for a “fact-finding team” from the United Nations to be sent to India to look into the CAA, riots and actions in Jammu and Kashmir , condemning what it called “the actions of Hindu extremists….against Indian Muslims,” and even called on the Indonesian government to "boycott Indian goods".

India has not reacted thus far to the events in Indonesia. Last year, the government had raised strong objections with the U.K. government after protesters were allowed to picket the High Commission in London.

The government has publicly criticised Malaysia and Turkey for their comments on the CAA and events in Jammu and Kashmir as these are “internal matters”.

Tensions between India and Indonesia are also brewing over reports in the Indian media that an Indonesian Islamic NGO Aksi Cepat Tanggap had ‘funded’ the violence in Delhi and was linked to Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Toiba. The reports, in at least two national television channels and a national daily, appeared a day after Home Minister Amit Shah had referred to evidence of a “foreign hand” in funding the riots from February 24-26 in northeast Delhi that has left thousands homeless.

In a statement released ahead of the protests on Friday, ACT supervisory council member Syuhelmaidi Syukur denied the allegations saying the organisation had only funded “humanitarian aid” to “victims whose houses have been damaged, widows who lost their children and people who lost their source of income due to the riots”.

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