US nudges India to respect right of peaceful assembly

US subtly nudges India to respect right of peaceful assembly

When violence broke out in North East Delhi, US President Donald Trump was on a visit to India. He, however, refrained from taking it up with Modi or making any comment about it during his press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.  Crcedit: Reuters Photo

The United States on Thursday subtly nudged India to respect the right of peaceful assembly, even as it avoided rubbing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government the wrong way in the wake of violent clashes over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Delhi.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased and injured in New Delhi,” Alice Wells, acting US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs, posted on Twitter on Thursday. “We echo PM @NarendraModi’s call for calm and normalcy and urge all parties to maintain peace, refrain from violence, and respect the right of peaceful assembly,” she posted on Twitter on Thursday – just two days after Modi hosted US President Donald Trump returned to Washington D.C. completing

Wells tagged a tweet by Modi, who took to social media to appeal to “sisters and brothers” of Delhi and urged them “to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times”.

When violence broke out in North East Delhi, US President Donald Trump was on a visit to India. He, however, refrained from taking it up with Modi or making any comment about it during his press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. 

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), however, expressed “grave concern” over violence in North-East Delhi in a more straightforward manner, prompting Modi Government to accuse it of politicizing the clashes. Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi, also termed statements by the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on violence in the National Capital Territory of India as “factually inaccurate, “selective” and “misleading”.

Michelle Bachelet Jeria, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 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”. “This (violent clashes) has now widened into broader inter-communal attacks, with 34 people killed since Sunday 23 February. I appeal to all political leaders to prevent violence.”

“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,” Tony Perkins, chairman of the USCIRF, said, adding: “One of the essential duties of any responsible government is to provide protection and physical security for its citizens, regardless of faith.”

The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal government commission established by the US Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom in other countries.

“We urge the Indian government to take serious efforts to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence,” said the USCIRF chairman.

The commission noted that as US President Donald Trump’s visit to India had come to its end, North-East Delhi had been “rocked by deadly rioting, with reports of violence and mobs specifically targeting Muslims”. “According to reports, several mosques have also been set alight or vandalized. Many Muslim residents have been forced to flee the area. This unrest comes in the wake of widespread protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act following its passage in December 2019.”

“We have seen comments made by USCIRF, sections of the media and a few individuals regarding recent incidents of violence in Delhi. These are factually inaccurate and misleading, and appear to be aimed at politicizing the issue,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the MEA, said on Thursday.

“Our law enforcement agencies are working on the ground to prevent violence and ensure restoration of confidence and normalcy.” The MEA spokesperson also said that senior representatives of the government had been involved in efforts to restoring normalcy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also “publicly appealed for peace and brotherhood”.

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