By Special Correspondent
As the death count continues to increase in Delhi violence, International media has castigated India for what most of the media organizations term as ‘pogrom” against the Indian Muslims. The reports remarked upon the alleged complicity of the Delhi Police and Modi’s chequered history as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, where in 2002, over communal riots claimed over 1,000 victims, the majority of whom were Muslims.
New York Times
A New York Times report titled “The Roots of the Delhi Riots: A Fiery Speech and an Ultimatum” said, “Many Indians, including Hindus, believe that Mr. Mishra and his Hindu nationalist supporters have weaponized a very dangerous mood. In a Hindu majority nation, with a Hindu nationalist government that has allowed the killers of Muslims to go unpunished, fear has been growing that violent Hindu extremism could spin out of control.”
Another report in the same newspaper underscored the involvement of the Delhi Police: “Witnesses have said that police officers, under the command of a Hindu nationalist governing party that has a long history of vilifying Muslims, intentionally stood back and let Hindu mobs slaughter Muslim civilians.”
The piece mentioned “While Trump spoke of peace, however, a very different scene was playing out in the streets of New Delhi, where major clashes erupted across the city as protesters rallied against India’s new bill offering amnesty to non-Muslim undocumented immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has promised to offer sanctuary to those with credible claims of fears of religious persecution under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
However, with the bill excluding Muslims, critics have said the new rules are part of an agenda from the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to marginalize Muslims already in the country and bar others from entering India.
The editorial in The Guardian, headlined: “Modi stoked this fire”, said that Modi’s tweets, which came three days after violence erupted in North East Delhi, “does nothing to compensate for days of silence, nor to veil a career built upon stoking division”.
The article noted that Modi’s “international rehabilitation”, after being shunned by the global community for his alleged involvement in the 2002 Gujarat violence, “is mostly due to his subsequent election as prime minister”.
An editorial in The Khaleej Times, declaring “Politicians stoked Delhi Riots”, commented that “there is no need to second guess who” were responsible for the violence, and that “there would be enough data to provide concrete proof”.
A victim told VICE reporter Hanan Zaffar that ‘ they [The police] threw stones at us along with the mob and did nothing to stop them. We are at their mercy.’
The report further read, “The violence broke out on the eve of American President Donald Trump’s visit to India and a day after a local leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Kapil Mishra warned the protestors for mending their ways or facing consequences. He tweeted a video about an ultimatum to a police officer that they will keep it down during Trump’s visit, but will not obey if the police fails to clear the areas where anti-CAA protests are taking place.”
A report in The Times, published from London, also mentioned the similarity of the Delhi violence to the Gujarat riots, particularly in “Modi’s silence, as the death toll mounted”.
German news magazine Der Spiegel pointed out that the violence in North East Delhi unfolded while Modi was busy rubbing shoulders with American President Donald Trump only kilometres away. The article titled “Outside show-off, inside protest” said, “Anti-Muslim rhetoric may harm India’s reputation abroad; inside, however, it works.”
An article in The Washington Post titled “Why India’s Students Are Angry and Its Muslims Are Worried” stated that secularism has been a casualty in Modi’s Hindutva-inflected reign.
“Back in 1947, India’s constitution writers envisaged a secular state where all citizens were equal before the law,” the article read. “But the rise of Hindu nationalism has been testing that ideal. Since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, hardliners in his Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, have become increasingly emboldened in promoting the dominance of its Hindus, who form 80% of the population.”
Comparing the role of BJP government with that of Nazi supporters in Germany Patrick Cockburn wrote a his piece on Delhi Violence under While Muslims are being murdered in India, the rest of the world is too slow to condemn.
He wrote “On 23 February 2020 in Delhi, Hindu nationalist mobs roamed the streets burning and looting mosques together with Muslim homes, shops and businesses. They killed or burned alive Muslims who could not escape and the victims were largely unprotected by the police. At least 37 people, almost all Muslims, were killed and many others beaten half to death: a two-year-old baby was stripped by a gang to see if he was circumcised – as Muslims usually are, but Hindus are not. Some Muslim women pretended to be Hindus in order to escape.”
“Government complicity was not as direct as in Germany 82 years earlier, but activists of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, were reported as being in the forefront of the attacks on Muslims. A video was published showing Muslim men, covered in blood from beatings, being forced to lie on the ground by police officers and compelled to sing patriotic songs. Modi said nothing for several days and then made a vague appeal for “peace and brotherhood”.
Politico’s piece noted how Trump sidestepped questions on India’s new citizenship law, but said he “confronted Modi in private about his country’s treatment of Muslims”.
Trump used questions about the law on Tuesday, it added, “to once again defend his travel ban, which he signed just a week into his tenure, causing massive, nationwide protests and prompting lawsuits”.
“India rolled out the red carpet on Tuesday for US President Donald Trump on the second day of a visit high on spectacular optics, but deadly unrest exposed religious tensions that his host is accused of stoking,” AFP reported.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes had sharp words on the situation, reminding his viewers of the 2002 Gujarat riots, which happened under Modi’s watch, and the fact that the current Indian PM was denied entry into the US for years.
“And now, as prime minister, Narendra Modi has launched a full-scale assualt on the multi-religious principles India was founded on,” said Hayes, showing visuals of the riots in Delhi, which occurred even as Trump and Modi were merrily going on with their official programme.
A Gulf News piece, making a reference to 85-year-old Akbari, who was burned alive in her home in North East Delhi, asked, “An elderly lady – possibly older than the country itself – was burnt to death in the madness in the last few days. Think about it. What civilisational greatness can possibly come from burning a grandmother alive?”
A common sentiment expressed by several publications was that the Delhi violence had destroyed India’s international image as a democracy tolerant of multiple faiths and sub-cultures.
An Al Jazeera piece titled “In Delhi, imaginary knives have now become real ones” observed that if the peaceful anti-CAA protests across India showed that “we have the democratic, moral and intellectual legitimacy to question laws passed by the government, the anti-Muslim riots in the national capital have crushed that hope”.
A Gulf News editorial added, “The world knows India as a land of diversity with hundreds of sects and religions, languages and innumerable cultures. India is a multicultural land in the most basic sense of the word. But the images of the past week have grotesquely disfigured that narrative.”