From top: Riots break out in Jafrabad and Maujpur areas of North East district in Delhi on Monday; US President Donald Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi during ‘Namaste Trump’ rally at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in India on Monday; lawyer Priyangee Guha
Priyangee Guha writes:
US President Donald Trump was in India. He visited the Taj Mahal in Agra. Every national and international media outlet covered this very closely.
Meanwhile Indians have been protesting against the newly introduced Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) since December 2019. The protests have been very peaceful until now.
Many of these protests have been led by women who are breaking many barriers to fight for the rights of the most vulnerable. This is one of the most unprecedented protests in India since Independence.
There’s also been “protest” in favour of the law.
On February 23, in one such “pro-CAA protest”, BJP Leader Kapil Mishra made a statement at his rally in which he threatened protestors in Delhi with violence if the police failed to clear the area, where people were protesting, over the following three days.
Soon after Mishra’s statement, Delhi began witnessing orchestrated attacks on the protestors. According to The Indian Express, the attacks started immediately after the leader left the rally.
Protesters are allegedly targeting Muslims and muslim properties. There are reports of homes of Hindus being marked for protection while they burned down markets and shops while chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram’, ‘Har Har Mahadev’, and ‘Modi Modi Modi’.
Various videos on social media have emerged which show that the protestors were attacked
while the police stood there as bystanders.
There are also videos where police are seen aiding the attackers while people impersonating as members of the Indian Army were deployed against protesters.
According to Reuters, Delhi police have used tear gas shells and smoke grenades to
disperse crowds. In another area, police have reportedly been attacking protestors without
According to official reports, 21 people have died so far in these protests but the unofficial figure is expected to be much higher.
Journalists in the field have been cornered and attacked with the Asia desk of the Committee to Protect Journalists issuing a safety advisory for journalists covering the protests.
And as protesters continue to be under attack, those injured are obstructed from getting access to medical aid. In response, an emergency petition was filed at midnight yesterday where judges directed the police to ensure safe passage for injured victims.
The police have also imposed S. 144 of Indian Penal Code which prohibits assembly of people with arms, in several locations while Leaving Certificate examinations for secondary school students in affected areas of Delhi have been cancelled.
Sharma, whose speech has allegedly incited the violence in the first place, is now pleading to people to be peaceful.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hosted President Trump, has not made any statement yet while Delhi’s Chief Minister, Mr Arvind Kejriwal, has requested “Hon’ble [Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal] and Hon’ble Union Home Minister [Amit Shah] to restore law and order n ensure that peace and harmony is maintained”.
Chief Minister Kejriwal and Home Minister Shah met yesterday to discuss a plan of action.
When a group of students gathered outside the Chief Minister’s house demanding action, he refused to meet them. The students were then attacked with water cannons.
Even Delhi Police has appealed for people to maintain peace and harmony and “appealed to the media not to circulate any disturbing pictures which may further aggravate the situation”.
A group of citizens filed a petition before the Supreme Court of India to direct the authorities to take action against the perpetrators of violence and provide security to those protesting peacefully. The case was listed today in Supreme Court, and will be taken again after lunch.
But will the authorities take action against those who have incited violence? Will those who are orchestrating this attack be held to account?
While Delhi is set on fire, people in Kashmir remain disconnected for more than 200-plus days with no relief in sight.
Indian democracy certainly seems to be living an Orwellian nightmare.
But let’s talk about Trump’s visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra!
Priyangee Guha is a lawyer and a human rights activist from India who is living in Ireland.
Delhi protests: death toll climbs amid worst religious violence for decades (The Guadian)