THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 25 FEBRUARY, 2020
Delhi Violence Overtakes Trump Visit in Global Headlines
‘The timing of this is an embarrassment to PM Modi as he hosts the US president’
NEW DELHI: “At least seven people, including a police officer, were killed and dozens were injured in clashes between hundreds of supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law in India that provides fast-track naturalization for some foreign-born religious minorities but not Muslims,” begins an Associated Press report on the violence in Delhi. The AP report was picked up by international media, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, with the headline: “7 Killed in New Delhi Protests Ahead of Trump's Visit.”
The article continues: “India has been rocked by violence since Parliament approved a new citizenship law in December that provides fast-track naturalization for some foreign-born religious minorities but not Muslims. Critics say the country is moving toward a religious citizenship test. At a massive rally in Ahmedabad after Trump's arrival on Monday, the president praised India's history of religious tolerance, saying many faiths "worship side by side in harmony.””
The Guardian carried the AP report with the headline: “Delhi rocked by deadly protests during Donald Trump's India visit.” “The protesters blocked a busy road in a north-eastern district of Delhi, replicating similar sit-ins in several parts of India since the law was passed in December. Police used tear gas as the rival groups hurled rocks at each other in the area on Monday and set some houses, shops, vehicles and a petrol pump on fire. Police closed access to two metro stations in the area,” the article says.
A Euro News report is headlined: “New Delhi rocked by violence during Donald Trump's visit to to Taj Mahal.” The report says: “In New Delhi, police fired tear gas as clashes erupted between hundreds of supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law that provides fast-track naturalization for some foreign-born religious minorities but not Muslims. Critics say the country is moving toward a religious citizenship test. New Delhi's highest elected official, Arvind Kejriwal, tweeted that the violence was “very distressing.”
BBC news headlined their report “Donald Trump in India: Seven killed in Delhi violence during visit.” The report says: “Seven people have been killed in Delhi in protests against India's controversial new citizenship law, as US President Donald Trump made his first official visit to the country.”
The BBC report states that: “A policeman and six civilians have died in the capital's deadliest day since the new law was passed last year. Vehicles were set alight in the clashes between supporters and opponents of the law which, critics say, targets India's 200 million Muslims.
There are fears of further clashes.
BBC reporters in north-east Delhi say that despite heavy police presence, there are crowds of people throwing stones in the affected areas.
"There are around 200 people, some are holding the Indian flag in their hands, others are holding saffron flags, generally associated with right-wing Hindu groups. They are chanting Jai Shri Ram (hail Lord Ram)," BBC Hindi reporter Faisal Mohammed said.
The crowd was also shouting "shoot the traitors", our reporter added.
Correspondents say the timing of this incident is an embarrassment to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he hosts the US president and the violence has taken the spotlight away from Mr Trump's visit.”
“Hundreds of supporters and opponents of the law in Jaffrabad clash for second day as Trump kicked off his India trip,” read a report in Al Jazeera. “At least three civilians and a police officer have been killed in violence in the Indian capital, New Delhi, on the day US President Donald Trump kicked off his two-day trip,” the report notes.
“A policeman was killed and dozens of people injured amid clashes in New Delhi on Monday as thousands demonstrating for and against a new citizenship law rioted for several hours before U.S. President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to the city,” a Reuters report says.
“Police used tear gas and smoke grenades but struggled to disperse the crowds, as both sides hurled stones and turned a wide boulevard into a rock-strewn battle zone, about 11 miles from where Trump will meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks on Tuesday… Reuters reporters saw multiple vehicles set on fire, metal barricades torn down and thick smoke billowing as supporters of the new law clashed with opponents. A small contingent of police was vastly outnumbered,” the report notes.
“Monday’s clashes were among the worst seen in New Delhi since the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) began in early December. The latest round of violence came as Trump began his first visit to India as U.S. president, addressing a rally in Modi’s home state of Gujarat. Trump landed in New Delhi late on Monday,” the report adds.
It says: “The protesters appeared to be divided along religious lines, and some repeatedly hailed Hindu god Ram while pelting stones at the predominantly Muslim group opposed to the new law.
A Reuters witness saw at least one Muslim man and a burqa-clad woman beaten by dozens of pro-law protesters with sticks and iron rods.
Earlier on Monday, local politician Yogendra Yadav described the violence as “communal” and urged police to intervene.
But for several hours, Reuters witnesses saw the outnumbered policemen mostly stand beside those backing the citizenship law, a majority Hindu group, and do little to quell the violence. The police also stood by as a mob vandalized a store with a Muslim name, pulling out vehicles and setting them alight.
“Go ahead and throw stones,” one policeman shouted to protesters backing the law, during one of the running battles.
On side streets, young boys drained fuel from motorcycles to make petrol bombs, and protesters pulled up paving stones and flung construction material at opponents.”
The Reuters report ends with this paragraph on Trump’s visit to India: “In Gujarat, Trump told a gathering of more than 100,000 people that “India is a country that proudly embraces freedom, liberty, individual rights, the rule of law, and the dignity of every human being.””
(Cover Photo: REUTERS / Danish Siddiqui)