This week’s communal violence in Delhi, which overshadowed US President Donald Trump’s visit, has begun to reverberate in America’s political discourse. The Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, currently the party’s frontrunner for the opposition party’s nomination, slammed Trump for his “failure of leadership on human rights" in not raising the issue with India. Before that, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal government panel, described the sectarian violence in the Indian capital as disturbing. The panel urged the Indian government to make “serious efforts" to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence.
While the Centre has sought to brush off the criticism by saying that US observers were misled over what transpired in the capital, such commentary should worry India. It is often assumed that Trump’s stated position, that the riots were an internal matter for India, shall prevail in the US. Further, that defence deals and the India-US strategic partnership matter above all else. However, there is no guarantee that Trump will return to the White House this November. Also, the “shared values" aspect of India-US ties may come under strain in America if New Delhi seems dismissive of the concerns being raised.
What happened in Delhi during Trump’s visit could yet come to haunt the country. The police seemed either paralyzed or partisan as mobs wreaked havoc in parts of the capital barely a few kilometres away from a banquet held in Trump’s honour. How it could happen is what many in the US are asking.