NEW DELHI (AP) — India accused a United States (US) government commission of politicising communal violence in New Delhi that killed at least 30 people and injured over 200 as US President Donald Trump was visiting the country.
The violent clashes were the capital’s worst communal riots in decades and saw shops and public vehicles go up in flames. Though the rioting had largely subsided, the rising toll was confirmed by hospital officials yesterday.
On Wednesday, the US Commission said it was deeply troubled by the violence and cited accounts that police had not intervened in the attacks which police and India’s federal government have denied.
“The government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens,” Commissioner Anurima Bhargava said.
India’s External Affairs Ministry said the commission’s comments were “factually inaccurate and misleading” and appeared to be “aimed at politicising the issue”.
Yesterday, burned shops and public vehicles stood charred near a highway in Chandbagh. Streets were littered with broken glass and charred petrol bombs as dozens of police in camouflage and helmets patrolled.
The people affected by the violence allege mobs screamed slogans and rioted with impunity as the police appeared to aid the marauding crowds. Rioters, too, have been violent, and a number of people including security personnel, are among the dead and injured. The violence began last Sunday when clashes between supporters and opponents of India’s new citizenship law quickly escalated into full-blown riots between in working-class neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the sprawling capital.
Hours before the clashes, local politician Kapil Mishra, who is affiliated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, appeared at a rally against the citizenship law’s opponents and issued an ultimatum to the police to clear out the demonstrators. He told the crowd at the rally if police wouldn’t clear out the demonstrators, he and his followers would do it themselves.
Many people believe Mishra and his nationalist supporters stoked the latest riots.
Trump’s first state visit to India included a lavish reception in Modi’s home state of Gujarat and talks with the Indian leader, but the US leader said they didn’t discuss the violence. Trump declined to comment about the citizenship law, saying he wanted to leave that to India, before departing.