The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) condemned widespread international criticism of the Delhi violence as “misleading and inaccurate” and urged various leaders in the U.S., media, and international organisations not to make “irresponsible comments at a sensitive time” for India.
On February 27, the government faced statements from the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), several Democrat and Republican leaders in addition to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the communal violence since February 24 that has left at least 38 people dead.
“These [statements] are factually inaccurate and misleading, and appear to aimed at politicising the issue,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, referring to comments coming from the U.S. “Our law enforcement agencies are working to prevent violence and ensure restoration of confidence and normalcy…. Prime Minister [Modi] has publicly appealed for peace and brotherhood,” he said.
The USCIRF, which is holding a public hearing on India and the impact of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) on March 4, expressed “grave concern” over reports of violence and “mobs specifically targeting Muslims” in Delhi.
Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren issued statements on Twitter, urging the Trump administration to take a tougher stand on the violence, while the Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engels said he was “deeply troubled”. On Thursday, a day after President Donald Trump returned from his India visit, senior official Alice Wells said the U.S. “echoes PM Modi’s call for calm and normalcy and urges all parties to maintain peace, refrain from violence and respect the right of peaceful assembly.”
On Wednesday, the co-chairs of the powerful Senate India Caucus — a crucial body for U.S. policy and legislation towards India, welcomed the outcomes of the Trump visit but expressed alarm at the violence Delhi.
“As co-chairs of the India Caucus, we welcome the commitments made by the U.S. and India during President Trump’s recent visit to India to expand the partnership between our two countries and our two peoples. Both countries agreed to continue working together to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region, secure 5G and an open internet, increase our defence trade, strengthen our energy partnership, expand counterterrorism, maritime, cyber, and space cooperation, as well as to expand educational exchanges – all of which will benefit both of our countries,” Senators John Cornyn (Republican, Texas) and Mark R. Warner (Democrat, Virginia ) said in a statement.
“At the same time, we are alarmed by the recent violence in New Delhi. We continue to support an open dialogue on issues of significant concern in order to advance our vital long-term relationship,” the Senators said.
The MEA also responded sharply to critical comments from OHCHR Commissioner Michelle Bachelet. She drew attention in her annual speech at the Human Rights Council to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, saying no steps had been taken to “address allegations of excessive use of force and other serious human rights violations by security forces”, while 800 people remained in detention. She also expressed concern over “reports of police inaction in the face of attacks against Muslims by other groups, as well as previous reports of excessive use of force by police against peaceful protesters”.
In its response, India said that “peaceful protests and demonstrations are part of India’s democratic traditions”, but violence doesn’t. “ We have taken all measures and restored peace and normalcy in the affected areas in Delhi,” the government claimed at the session in Geneva.
To a statement from the 56-member OIC that selectively “condemned the recent and alarming violence against Muslims in India…and arson and vandalism of mosques and Muslim-owned properties, but didn’t condemn the violence against Hindus and others”, Mr. Kumar said it too was “misleading, inaccurate and irresponsible”.
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