Delhi is witnessing unprecedented communal violence. The death toll has now risen to 34 and many are seriously injured. The areas which were most affected include Chand Bagh, Bhajanpura, Gokulpuri, Maujpur, Kardampuri, and Jaffrabad.
On Tuesday afternoon, a violent Hindu mob of around 500 young men descended on to a mosque in Ashok Nagar, broke down the doors and climbed the minaret to fly a Hindu flag. They then set the mosque alight. Later in the evening, another smaller mosque and Muslim shops in the local market were burned. Visuals of stone pelting, burning and mob lynching surfaced on social media as journalists braved the violence for reportage. The Delhi CM has described the situation as alarming and asked for army deployment.
PM Modi, who has been busy with US President’s visit, finally tweeted that he has reviewed the situation and police and other agencies are working on the ground to ensure peace and normalcy.
Violence in Delhi has been widely covered globally. The Guardian called this the “worst religious violence for decades” and discussed the context of the discriminatory law CAA. The Washington Post reported how controversial citizenship law has led to protests, mainly led my Muslims, while BJP has engaged in increasingly strident rhetoric against the protestors with one BJP leader calling the protestors criminal who deserve to be shot. The BBC argued that the Delhi violence has echoes of Gujarat riots with state complicity, “Armed Hindu mobs rioted with impunity as the police appeared to look the other way. Mosques and homes and shops of Muslims were attacked, sometimes allegedly with the police in tow.” The New York Times reported how streets in Delhi have become a battle zone and how a fiery speech and an ultimatum by Hindu nationalist politician is at the roots of Delhi riot.
Meanwhile, the US embassy has issued advisory urging the American citizens to exercise caution because of the violent clashes.
US lawmakers have also taken a note of the Delhi violence and Chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Angel said, “Deeply troubled by the deaths from the communal violence in India over the past couple of days,” The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent bipartisan body set up by the U.S. Congress, also took note of the violence in Delhi and tweeted, “USCIRF is alarmed by reports of deadly mob violence targeting Muslims in New Delhi, #India and urges the #Modi government to rein in mobs and protect religious minorities and others who have been targeted.”
US Democrat politician, Bernie Sanders tweeted, “Over 200 million Muslims call India home. Widespread anti-Muslim mob violence has killed at least 27 and injured many more. Trump responds by saying “That’s up to India”. This is a failure of leadership on human rights.”
Meanwhile, at the United Nations India has cited the right to protest and the fact that the constitution “begins by first of all safeguarding the rights of all” to counter Pakistan on Kashmir at the United Nations Human Rights Council. These assertions are particularly ill-timed at a time when anyone protesting against CAA is being vilified and targeted by the state authorities in one of the worst violence against Muslims in decades. Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan tweeted that “Today in India we are seeing the Nazi-inspired RSS ideology take over a nuclear-armed state of over a billion people. Whenever a racist ideology based on hatred takes over, it leads to bloodshed” and added that “I want to warn our people that anyone in Pakistan targeting our non-Muslim citizens or their places of worship will be dealt with strictly. Our minorities are equal citizens of this country.”
‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’, an Emmy-winning comedic talk-show that recently criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Citizenship Amendment Act has now been removed from Hotstar. Trevor Noah, award winning comedian from South Africa and host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central also covered Trump’s visit in India in the backdrop of one of the worst communal violence. Indian diaspora all over the world is organizing protests against violence.
Trump recently described India as ‘tolerant, free and peaceful’, which was lapped up by biased Indian media.
This is bitterly ironical in the context of Delhi violence that is being described as genocide and a pogrom. Muslims are being targeted across the nation. Delhi in the last few days has witnessed Muslim houses being set ablaze and their property being destroyed. Among the dead the majority are Muslims. Kapil Mishra, the BJP leader whose remarks instigated large part of the violence remains unapologetic.
However, this violence must be seen in the context of relentless propaganda that has been spread by the state dispensation and media over the last few years. Targeting and othering of Muslims had begun long before CAA was introduced. Peaceful protests at Shaheen Bagh were vilified and the PM had noted that protestors could be identified by their clothes. End of last month, incidentally on the day of MK Gandhi’s assassination by Godse, an armed young man, radicalized by violent Hindutva ideology, opened fire at Jamia students while police indifferently looked on. Republic, a pro government channel suggested that this was inevitable result of ‘endless provocation’ by the protestors.
Recently AAP won the state election in what many say as rejection of hard line Hindutva – although their recent ineffective role to contain violence and silence over issues such as CAA has come under criticism. However, the recently violence suggests that rot runs deeper and will take a long time to reverse the damage caused to the secular fabric of the nation.
(The views expressed above are the author’s own. Newsd neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)