Several lawmakers in the United States raised concerns over the violence that has erupted in northeastern parts of New Delhi since Sunday, claiming at least 20 lives in three days. The protests began after clashes between those in favour and against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act escalated with multiple attacks on Muslim homes.
“It is important to strengthen relationships with democratic partners like India,” Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Party’s contender for the United States presidential elections later this year. “But we must be able to speak truthfully about our values, including religious freedom and freedom of expression – and violence against peaceful protestors is never acceptable.”
United States Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal expressed shock over the violence, and described it as a “deadly surge of religious intolerance. “Democracies should not tolerate division and discrimination, or promote laws that undermine religious freedom,” she tweeted. “The world is watching.” Last year, Jayapal had introduced a United States’ Congressional resolution asking India to end the restrictions on communications in Jammu and Kashmir, and reserve religious freedom for all residents.
In December last year, she had criticised Indian Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar’s decision to pull out of a meeting with American legislators because of her invitation to the event. She also expressed concern about the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens.
“This week, Trump visited India but the real story should be the communal violence targeting Muslims in Delhi right now,” tweeted United States Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. “We cannot be silent as this tide of anti-Muslim violence continues across India.”
Tagging a report on Trump evading a question on the violence in New Delhi, US lawmaker Alan Lowenthal said it was a “tragic failure of moral leadership”, and said that people must “speak out in the face of threats to human rights in India”.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, or USCIRF said the reports of “deadly mob violence targeting Muslims in New Delhi” was alarming. “...[USCIRF] urges the [Narendra] Modi government to rein in mobs and protect religious minorities and others who have been targeted,” the commission tweeted.
In December last year, the US panel had strongly criticised the Indian administration’s decision to introduce the Citizenship Amendment Act. In a statement, the commission had said that it was “deeply troubled” by the bill’s passage in the Lok Sabha and sought sanctions against Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal leadership if it is passed in the Rajya Sabha. India had criticised the remarks.
United States President Donald Trump, who was in India as violence erupted in Delhi over the Citizenship Amendment Act, said he had discussed religious freedom with Modi, but added that it was “up to India” to handle the ongoing violence in parts of Delhi.