UN Chief ‘Very Saddened’ By Casualties In Delhi Violence

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UN chief Antonio Guterres – File Pic

UNITED NATIONS – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is “very saddened” by the casualties in the communal clashes in northeast Delhi over the amended citizenship law and calls for maximum restraint for violence to be avoided, his spokesperson said.

Communal violence over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in northeast Delhi killed at least 34 people and left over 200 injured till Thursday as police struggled to check the rioters who ran amok on streets, burning and looting shops, pelting stones and thrashing people.

Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric during a daily briefing here on Wednesday said, “He’s very saddened by the reports of casualties following the protests in Delhi, and as he has done in similar circumstances, he calls for maximum restraint and for violence to be avoided.”

Dujarric was responding to a question on whether the Secretary General has any comment on the riots in parts of New Delhi over the new citizenship law and if he has communicated with the Indian Government.

Earlier Dujarric had said that Guterres is closely following the situation in New Delhi and stressed that demonstrators should be allowed to demonstrate peacefully and security forces should show restraint.

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Thursday said 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. The prime minister has publicly appealed for peace and brotherhood. We would urge that irresponsible comments are not made at this sensitive time,” Kumar said.

USCIRF Condemns Delhi Violence

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued a statement expressing “grave concern over the ongoing violence taking place in Delhi.”

“The brutal and unchecked violence growing across Delhi cannot continue,” said USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava.

“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.”

The statement said that as “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.

USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins stated, “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.”

In its 2019 Annual Report, USCIRF classified India as a “Tier 2” country for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious standard for designations as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act.

Separately, US lawmakers also condemned the violence. “I condemn attacks against Muslims in India, and reject violence, bigotry, and religious intolerance. The US State Department should too,” Republican lawmaker Don Beyer tweeted.

“Democracies should not tolerate division and discrimination or promote laws that undermine religious freedom,” US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal tweeted, adding that the “deadly surge of religious intolerance in India is horrifying” and “the world is watching.”

“It’s important to strengthen relationships with democratic partners like India. But we must be able to speak truthfully about our values, including religious freedom and freedom of expression, and violence against peaceful protesters is never acceptable,” Democrat presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren said.

“This week, Trump visited India but the real story should be the communal violence targeting Muslims in Delhi right now. We cannot be silent as this tide of anti-Muslim violence continues across India,” Congresswoman Rashida Talib tweeted.

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