At least 27 are dead in five days of communal violence in Delhi that coincided with Donald Trump’s first visit to India as president. The violence began as protests against India’s new citizenship law sparked a reaction by Hindu militants, who began attacking Muslims and torching Muslim-owned shops. Delhi judicial authorities have opened an investigation, and ordered police officials to view video clips of incitement by local leaders of the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). (Jurist, India Today)
The violence, centered in the North East Delhi district of Maujpur, was raging as Trump was meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi just a few miles away at the capital’s official Hyderabad House, praising him at a press conference afterwards as “working very hard on religious freedom.” He admitted he had not brought up the violence with Modi, dismissing it as “individual cases.” (Vox, The Guardian)
Earlier, Trump and Modi starred at a mass “Namaste Trump” rally at a stadium in Ahmedabad, biggest city in Gujarat state—where Modi, as the state’s chief minister, presided over a deadly anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002 that some have called a genocide. Appropriately enough, Ahmedabad municipal authorities built a wall through the city ahead of Trump’s visit, a “beautification” measure clearly aimed at hiding poor areas from view on major thoroughfares. Last-minute eviction notices were also served to residents of “slum” areas around the stadium. (The Guardian, News18, India)
Trump also paid the requisite visit to Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati Ashram, home of India’s liberation hero Mohandas Gandhi. And instead of leaving the usual homily about Gandhi in the guestbook, he just wrote a message praising Modi! (Outlook, India)
This was portrayed in the Indian press as an egregious faux pas, but maybe we should be grateful for this one. Trump following protocol and writing some nicety about the Mahatma would have been surreal irony. It’s sickening enough that Modi himself goes through the motions of honoring Gandhi, while utterly betraying his legacy. His followers, rest assured, see through this. Under the leadership of Modi and the BJP, a repulsive cult has sprung up around Gandhi’s Hindu-nationalist assassin Nathuram Godse—even to the point of shrines being erected to honor him. (NYT)
The Hindu-Muslim violence being fueled by the BJP and Modi with Trump’s active connivance is of exactly the kind that Gandhi went on hunger strike to oppose. Do not let this reality go down the Memory Hole.
The Trump-Modi extravaganza also comes as the lock-down and internet shut-off in Muslim-majority Kashmir has passed the six-month mark—nearly forgotten now by the outside world. (AP) While the meeting of the two leaders failed to result in a hoped-for new trade agreement, their respective administrations are crowing that it represented an advance in other areas of bilateral cooperation. (NPR) This clearly includes the normalization of ethnic hatred and police-state measures.
Image: Sowmya Reddy