The death toll from Delhi’s worst riots in decades has risen to 38, as a political row broke out over the transfer of a judge who criticised the police and government’s handling of the crisis.
Tensions remained high in India’s capital, as thousands of riot police and paramilitaries patrolled streets littered with the debris from days of sectarian riots.
Justice S. Muralidhar, a Delhi high court judge, sharply criticised the police and called on officers to investigate politicians from Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata party for inciting violence.
Muralidhar was transferred to another state court in a late-night order, prompting an outcry among opposition politicians and on social media. Manish Tewari, opposition Congress party leader, said every lawyer and judge in India should strongly protest what he called a crude attempt to intimidate the judiciary.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, the law minister, insisted it was a “routine transfer”.
The violence began over a disputed new citizenship law on Monday, which led to clashes between Muslims and Hindus in which hundreds were injured. Many suffered gunshot wounds, while arson, looting and stone-throwing also took place.
As the nation reeled from the bloodshed, a heavy deployment of security forces brought an uneasy calm on Thursday.
At the heart of the unrest is a citizenship law which makes it easier for non-Muslims from some neighbouring Muslim-dominated countries to gain Indian citizenship. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the new law adopted last December is of “great concern” and she was worried by reports of police inaction in the face of assaults against Muslims by other groups. “I appeal to all political leaders to prevent violence,” Bachelet said in a speech to the UN human rights council in Geneva.
Critics say the law is biased against Muslims and undermines India’s secular constitution. Prime minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party has denied having any prejudice against India’s 180 million Muslims, saying that law is required to help persecuted minorities.
On Wednesday the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which advises Washington but does not set policy, voiced “grave concern” about the violence as president Donald Trump was visiting.
Anurima Bhargava, a commissioner appointed by Democrat house speaker Nancy Pelosi, also expressed alarm at reports that Delhi police “have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims”.
Trump, asked at a news conference in the capital about the violence, said the issue was “up to India” and praised Modi’s “incredible” statements on religious freedom.
I hope this will dispel any belief that India is democratic / free, or even just better than China / Pakistan. The Indians are literally repeating 89.6.4.
Trump's response is expected, but seems that not even the Congress is concerned (they were quick to pass legislation when we Hongkongers suffered). Shame on both of them.
EDIT: Americans had already made the mistake of helping China to curb down Russia half a century ago. Now they are pulling the same trick on India (being lenient on it to get its help on curbing China)? What next if India goes rogue?