By Salman Parviz

Reactions on India sectarian riots

March 9, 2020 - 14:34

TEHRAN_ The leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged India on Thursday to “confront extremist Hindus” and “stop the massacre of Muslims”, adding to international fallout over deadly anti-Muslim violence in New Delhi.

“The hearts of Muslims all over the world are grieving over the massacre of Muslims in India,” the Leader tweeted in English, just days after New Delhi rebuked Iran’s foreign minister for commenting on the same issue.

At least 47 people were killed and hundreds injured in the worst communal riots between supporters of new citizenship law and those against it in the Indian capital of New Delhi in decades. The riots broke out on February 23, during the same time U.S. President Donald Trump was visiting India.

The violence raged across the north-east of India’s capital for four days as Mosques were set alight, Muslims were burned alive in their homes or dragged out into the streets and lynched. Muslim businesses and property were also set alight. The police have been accused of enabling, encouraging or even joining the Hindu mobs.

The Indian government backtracked Saturday after slapping a 48-hour ban on two TV channels for what officials called biased coverage of New Delhi riots, reports AFP.

A blackout of Asianet News and MediaOne was ordered on Friday but lifted after an outcry from opposition groups and protests by the channels to the information and broadcasting ministry.

Citizenship Amendment Act was passed by the Indian parliament in December last year sparking protests and riots across the country. It grants Indian citizenship to all migrants from India’s three neighboring countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, except Muslims.

Earlier on Monday Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif tweeted “Iran condemns the wave of organized violence against Indian Muslims.” Indian authorities later on Tuesday summoned Iran’s Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni to file “strong protest” over Zarif’s tweet.

During a meeting with Indian Foreign Ministry director general for political affairs, Chegeni expressed hope that all Indian citizens would enjoy “peace and friendship” through wise decisions by the Indian government and officials.

Iran officials react

Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also expressed concern about the plight of Muslims and urged Indian government to prevent sectarian violence in the country. Larijani said that the new citizenship law was a contravention of Muslim rights.

A member of the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Abulfazl Hassan Beigi stated last Wednesday that the committee has condemned brutal killings of a large number of Muslims in India, claiming that CIA has always been behind such atrocities.

He said, “Unfortunately, India is among the places where the policies of the U.S. and CIA are effective”, and expressed hope that the Indian government would find out that the Muslims are pro-peace based on holy Quran’s tips.

In an interview with the pro-reform Etemad newspaper published on Tuesday, Mir-Mahmoud Mousavi, Iran’s former ambassador to New Delhi, expressed disgust over violence against Indian Muslims saying that “we should not close our eyes to the realities of the Islamic world.”

In another official reaction Abolfazl Zohrevand, Tehran’s former ambassador to Italy and Afghanistan, said: “Unfortunately, we are not seeing any stance toward the Indian issue by the Islamic world, and if that continues, we will see more violation of Muslims’ rights in India.”

Meanwhile, in a rare move the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachalet has filed an Intervention Application in the Indian Supreme Court against CAA. The government of India officially acknowledged Bachelet’s submission of the plea on March 3, followed by rebuttals: “internal matter”, “sovereignty right of the Indian Parliament to make laws”, and “no foreign party has locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty”. 

Media reactions

Farsi language Shahrvand headline read on March 5: ‘Pakistani foreign minister shares anxieties of his brother Zarif on problems of Indian Muslims’. Shah Mahmood Qureshi was addressing his Iranian counter-part and emphasized about security of Muslims in India who are the target of the inhumane behavior of Rashtriya Swayaseva Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist, paramilitary organization. The newspaper described RSS as a dangerous organization for the whole region.

Writing in his official Twitter account on Monday, Zarif condemned the recent wave of “organized violence” against Indian Muslims, calling on New Delhi to “ensure the well-being of all Indians”.

“We urge Indian authorities to ensure the well-being of all Indians and not let senseless thuggery prevail,” Zarif said.

In an op-ed, Japan Times went with ‘Modi’s project to make a Hindu India’ emphasizing that India “represents the most successful example in history of managing the challenge of unity in diversity” stating that India’s success lies in three core features of the country’s constitution: democracy, federalism and secularism. 

The writer Ramesh Thakur, a former UN assistant secretary-general, points out that “Muslims constitute a 180-million strong minority. If they become disaffected through state-sponsored policies of exclusion, the country would descend into bloodshed and break apart.”

The New Delhi based online publication The Print’s March 5 headline read “Modi government wants to give Pakistani Hindus citizenship, but not visa for last rites”.  For years, Hindus living in Pakistan have wanted to “immerse the ashes of their loves ones in the Ganga. But their visa applications keep getting rejected.”

According to Pakistan Hindu Council, Hindu population in Pakistan is estimated to be eight million, comprising four percent of the population, with majority based in Karachi, Sindh province.

Kashmir internet restored

Meanwhile, New Delhi revoked ban on social media sites and restores full but slow-speed internet access for two weeks in Kashmir on March 4.

It has been seven months since New Delhi stripped the Muslim-majority region of its statehood and semi-autonomy and enforced a total communications blackout last August. The restoration of the internet will remain in effect until March 17. The blackout was also imposed on cellphones, landlines and cable TV.

The internet lockdown – the longest ever in a democracy – inflicted heavy losses for the region’s economy, according to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which said at least 150,000 jobs were lost.

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