External Affairs

After Bernie Sanders Tweets About Delhi Riots, BJP Leader Threatens to Interfere in US Elections

The Ministry of External Affairs says these statement are aimed at “politicising” the issue.

New Delhi: For second day, top US Democrat lawmakers brought up the riots in Delhi and criticised US President Donald Trump for not showing “leadership” by raising it during his visit.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted on Wednesday night local time that Trump had failed to criticised the violence which racked Delhi, even as he was visiting. “This is a failure of leadership on human rights,” he posted on Twitter.

Sanders has recently won two major Democratic primaries at Nevada and New Hampshire and tied at Iowa.

BJP’s national general secretary B.L. Santhosh then tweeted to Sanders saying Santhosh or his party may interfere in the US elections. “How much ever neutral we wish to be you compel us to play a role in Presidential elections. Sorry to say so… but you are compelling us,” he tweeted. Santhosh later deleted it, but the remaining replies which tag both of them show that they are part of the same thread.

Meanwhile, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that India had “seen comments made by USCIRF [US Commission on International Religious Freedoms], sections of the media and a few individuals regarding recent incidents of violence in Delhi”.

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

While he didn’t name lawmakers, Kumar said that the tweets are “factually inaccurate and misleading, and appear to be aimed at politicising the issue”.

“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,” stated Kumar.

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Two days earlier, Sanders had again criticised Trump for harping on weapons sales with India, when the US president should be cooperating with New Delhi on climate change.

“Instead of selling USD 3 billion in weapons to enrich Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed, the United States should be partnering with India to fight climate change,” he tweeted on February 25, after US President announced at ‘Namaste Trump’ rally in Ahmedabad that India was buying $3 billion worth of military helicopters.

Sanders has been a critic of Trump’s engagement with Modi, including during the Howdy Modi even in Houston last year.

Sanders is, however, not the only one who has been highlighting the Delhi riots.

House Foreign Affairs committee chair Elliot Engel said that he was “deeply troubled by the deaths from the communal violence in India over the past couple of days”.

“The right to protest is a key aspect in democracy, but they must remain peaceful and police must ensure the safety of all,” he said.

Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren also criticised the violence, saying, “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.”

Earlier, US Democrat Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said the “deadly surge of religious intolerance in India is horrifying”.

The Indian Parliament had passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) last year, resulting in a series of protests across the country.

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.

Congressman Alan Lowenthal too 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.

Also read: Trump Says Modi Cited Rise in Muslim Population as Testament to Religious Freedom in India

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.”

The violence 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 people were killed in communal clashes that have upended a working-class neighborhood,” the New York Times said.