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US lawmakers voice concern on bloodshed in Indian capital as death toll mounts to 27 dead, 200 injured

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Several US lawmakers have raised concerns over the bloodshed that has erupted in the Indian capital, New Delhi, since Sunday, claiming at least 27 lives in the last three days. Around 200 people were reported injured in the communal violence since Sunday February 23.

The protests began after clashes between those in favor and against extreme rightist government of Prime Minister Modi's controversial Citizenship Amendment Act escalated with multiple attacks on Muslim homes and burning of a Mosque.

Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren said Tuesday: "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."

Reacting to the bloodshed US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said Tuesday the "deadly surge of religious intolerance in India is horrifying". "Democracies should not tolerate division and discrimination or promote laws that undermine religious freedom," she said in a tweet, adding that the "world is watching".

Pramila Jayapal had last year introduced a Congressional resolution urging India to end the restrictions on communications in Jammu and Kashmir and preserve religious freedom for all residents.

In December last year, Jayapal had criticized Indian Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar's decision to pull out of a meeting with American legislators because of her invitation to the event. She also expressed concern about the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens.

Congresswoman Rashida Talib tweeted, "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."

Congressman Alan Lowenthal termed the violence a "tragic failure of moral leadership". "We must speak out in the face of threats to human rights in India," he said.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, or USCIRF Tuesday tweeted, the reports of "deadly mob violence targeting Muslims in New Delhi" was alarming. "...[USCIRF] urges the [Narendra] Modi government to rein in mobs and protect religious minorities and others who have been targeted," the commission said.

In December last year, the US panel had strongly criticised the Indian administration's decision to introduce the Citizenship Amendment Act. In a statement, the commission had said that it was "deeply troubled" by the bill's passage in the Lok Sabha and sought sanctions against Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other principal leadership if it is passed in the Rajya Sabha.

The bloodshed in Delhi prominently featured in the mainstream media.

The Washington Post reported: "The riots represent a serious escalation of tensions after months of protests in response to a controversial citizenship law and growing frictions between supporters and opponents of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi."

"As President Trump toured India's capital, at least 11 (read 27) people were killed in communal clashes that have upended a working-class neighborhood," The New York Times said.

Tellingly, Scroll reported Wednesday that United States President Donald Trump, who was in India as violence erupted in Delhi over the Citizenship Amendment Act, said he had discussed religious freedom with Modi, but added that it was "up to India" to handle the ongoing violence in parts of Delhi.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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