In a statement released on Wednesday, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has expressed grave concerns about the ongoing violence in Delhi. The statement reads, “As President Donald Trump’s inaugural visit to India winds down, northeastern Delhi has been rocked by deadly rioting, with reports of violence and mobs specifically targeting Muslims.”
It goes on to add, “According to reports, several mosques have also been set alight or vandalized. Many Muslim residents have been forced to flee the area.”
Taking the bull by the horns USCIRF Commissioner Arunima Bhargava says, “The brutal and unchecked violence growing across Delhi cannot continue,” adding, “The Indian government must take swift action to ensure the safety of all of its citizens. Instead, reports are mounting that the Delhi police have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims, and the government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens. These incidents are even more concerning in the context of efforts within India to target and potentially disenfranchise Muslims across the country, in clear violation of international human rights standards.”
USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins urged the Indian government to protect its minorities saying, “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. One of the essential duties of any responsible government is to provide protection and physical security for its citizens, regardless of faith. We urge the Indian government to take serious efforts to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence.”
The entire statement may be read here.
But, the statement hasn’t gone down well with Indian authorities. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, “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 politicising the issue.” He added, “Our law enforcement agencies are working on the ground to prevent violence and ensure restoration of confidence and normalcy. Senior representatives of the Government have been involved in that process. Prime Minister has publicly appealed for peace and brotherhood. We would urge that irresponsible comments are not made at this sensitive time.”
Meanwhile, the death toll has risen to 35, with many reports of targeted violence against minorities being reported from North East Delhi. These include destruction of homes, shops, vehicles and other property owned by minorities.