Stop irresponsible comments on Delhi violence, India tells U.S. critics

MEA statement comes hours after leading figures voiced concern over riots in the capital.

February 27, 2020 02:09 pm | Updated 02:09 pm IST - NEW DELHI

India has urged U.S. Congressional outfits and leading figures to avoid making “irresponsible” statements about the communal riots in the national capital.

The statement from the Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs came hours after leading figures of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders expressed serious concern about the violence in Delhi, which has claimed around 33 lives so far.

“Our law enforcement agencies are working on the ground to prevent violence and ensure restoration of confidence and normalcy. Senior representatives of the government have been involved in that process. Prime Minister has publicly appealed for peace and brotherhood,” said Raveesh Kumar, Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs.

The exchange of words came two days after India hosted U.S. President Donald Trump, who had refused to be drawn into the debate about the new controversial citizenship law, which has been at the centre of a nationwide protest in recent months. The riot in Delhi began when Mr. Trump was visiting Ahmedabad and Agra and continued during his 36-hour long stay in India. Hours after Mr. Trump’s departure, the U.S. Embassy issued an advisory urging citizens to be cautious while visiting India.

Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to comment on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 was criticised by Mr. Sanders, who said, “This is a failure of leadership on human rights.”

The Ministry of External Affairs took note of the comments and said such statements were “irresponsible”.

“These are factually inaccurate and misleading, and appear to be aimed at politicising the issue,” said Mr. Kumar, referring to the series of criticism from the U.S. about the evolving situation in the Indian capital.

Earlier, Congressman Eliot Engel had expressed the right to protest is a key aspect of democracy and that the Indian police must ensure the safety of all. In a social media message, he said, “Deeply troubled by the deaths from the communal violence in India over the past couple of days.”

Tony Perkins, Chair of USCIRF, had expressed concern about the safety of Indian citizens saying, “The ongoing violence we are witnessing in Delhi and the reported attacks against Muslims, their homes and shops and their houses of worship are greatly disturbing. We urge the Indian government to take serious efforts to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence.”

Commissioner Anurima Bhargava of the USCIRF was the most forceful and asked India to act swiftly to stop the violence targeted against the Muslim community. “The brutal and unchecked violence growing across Delhi cannot continue. The Indian government must take swift action to ensure the safety of all of its citizens,” said Ms. Bhargava.

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