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Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (REUTERS)
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (REUTERS)

Bernie Sanders slams Trump remark on Delhi riots, faces India flak

  • Sanders is second Democratic presidential nominee to speak against the violence
  • Trump had said the riots were for India to deal with

NEW DELHI : NEW DELHI: US Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Wednesday accused US President Donald Trump of failing on the issue of human rights after he refused to be drawn into criticising New Delhi for its handling of riots in the capital.

Slamming the US president, Sanders said Trump's statement regarding the violence in New Delhi during his India visit was a "failure of leadership."

“Over 200 million Muslims call India home. Widespread anti-Muslim mob violence has killed at least 27 and injured many more. Trump responds by saying, "That's up to India." This is a failure of leadership on human rights," Sanders said in a Twitter post.

According to the 2011 census data, India is home to 966.3 million Hindus, who make up 79.8% of the population. There are 172.2 million Muslims (14.2% of the population); 27.8 million Christians (2.3%) and 20.8 million Sikhs (1.7%). The data also shows there are 8.4 million Buddhists with a 0.7% share of the population and 4.5 million Jains, making up 0.4% of the population.

Sanders is the second Democratic presidential nominee after Senator Elizabeth Warren to speak against the violence over the Citizenship Amendment Act in New Delhi.

Riots in north east Delhi have claimed over 30 lives since Sunday.

Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump were in India on Monday and Tuesday. The US President was hosted in New Delhi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday as the riots raged in the city.

When asked by reporters at a press conference, Trump said the riots were for India to deal with, refusing to make any comment seen as critical of his host.

On his return, Trump told reporters that the US' relationship with India was "extraordinary" right now and a lot of progress was made in bilateral ties during his first official visit to the country where America will be doing a lot of business.

"He (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) is a great gentleman, a great leader. It's an incredible country," PTI quoted Trump as saying, Trump, accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and the top officials of his administration, including National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, visited India on 24-25 February.

Meanwhile in India, in response to Sanders, Bharatiya Janata Party leader BL Santhosh in a Twitter post said: “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."

The tweet later appeared to have been deleted.

Apart from the Democratic presidential candidate Sanders, other influential senators too expressed concern over the recent developments.

"We are alarmed by the recent violence in New Delhi. We continue to support an open dialogue on issues of significant concern in order to advance our vital long-term relationship," Senator Mark Warner from the Democratic Party and John Cornyn from the GOP said in a joint statement.

Warner and Cornyn are co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus, the largest country-specific caucus in the US Senate.

Congressman Jamie Raskin said he was horrified by the violence, which was fuelled by religious hatred and fanaticism.

"Liberal democracies must protect religious freedom and pluralism, and avoid the path of discrimination and bigotry," the Congressman said.

Expressing concern over the violence in New Delhi, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) urged India to take swift action for the safety of its citizens.

Expressing "grave concern" over it, the USCIRF said the Indian government should provide protection to people regardless of their faith amid reports of attack on Muslims, PTI said in a report.

"We urge the Indian government to make serious efforts to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence," USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins said in a statement on Wednesday.

The USCIRF report drew a sharp response from the Indian foreign ministry in New Delhi with spokesman Raveesh Kumar saying that the comments appeared 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 publically appealed for peace and brotherhood. We would urge that irresponsible comments are not made at this sensitive time. “

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