During his first official visit to India, US President Donald Trump addressed the “Namaste Trump” event at Motera stadium in Ahmedabad, toured the Taj Mahal in Agra and visited the Rajghat in Delhi. He also met Indian industry leaders and held a press conference.
While this was happening, Delhi witnessed violent riots in which at least 20 people have been killed. A journalist was shot and four others injured while reporting on the prevailing situation in northeast Delhi on Tuesday.
Several journalists also recounted being cornered and threatened by mobs reportedly made up of so-called “pro-CAA protesters”, who have been holding rallies in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Foreign media, which had anyway trained its spotlight on India because of Trump’s visit, took note of the violence and pointed out how both Trump and Modi seemed “unaffected” by the tension as they continued with their engagements.
During his press conference on Tuesday, Trump was asked about the violence and India’s new citizenship law. He said that the issues involving the CAA are up to India and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he wants people to have religious freedom.
“I don’t want to say anything on CAA. It is up to India. I hope it will take the right decision for its people.”
When asked if he discussed the incidents of violence taking place during his visit, he said that he didn’t discuss individual attacks and “that is up to India”. Modi, unsurprisingly, stuck to his record of never having held an unscripted press conference during his tenure.
Here’s how foreign media reported the events:
The New York Times
The first article on NYT, by Jeffrey Gettleman, was titled ‘New Delhi streets turn into battleground for Hindus and Muslims’.
“In other parts of New Delhi, Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi carried on with sightseeing and meetings, seemingly unaffected as the tension and protests that have roiled the capital over Mr. Modi’s Hindu-first policies exploded into rioting and gang fighting.”
Hours later, NYT published another report by Peter Baker, Michael Crowley and Jeffrey Gettleman.
They wrote, “In the lush garden of Hyderabad House, President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated their friendship and talked of a modern, diverse and unified India. Across town, an explosion of anger over Mr. Modi’s sectarian policies set a neighborhood on edge, leaving a trail of dead bodies and a widening religious rift.
The two sides of New Delhi on display on Tuesday underscored the disparity between the hopes of Mr. Trump’s trip and the tensions outside the fortified environs of world leaders. Just miles from the pomp of a presidential visit, a mob of hot-tempered Hindu men wielding iron bars hunted their Muslim neighbors on streets littered with scraps of bricks.”
Titled ‘New Delhi Is Burning as Modi Throws a Party for Trump’s State Visit’, the Vice piece noted how Trump had made no public comments about the unrest in Delhi by Monday or the citizenship law debate.
The Washington Post
Joanna Slater’s piece said that Trump commended Modi for “working very hard on religious freedom” and refused to discuss the CAA. Trump has often called Modi a “good friend” and The Washington Post piece pointed out an outcome of the friendship between the two leaders.
“Trump declined to engage in anything that might be construed as criticism of Modi or his government, except on the issue of trade. The Modi government has made large strides in recent months toward its agenda of emphasizing Hindu primacy in India.”
The piece talked about how while Trump spoke of the need to promote “peace” in his speech at the ‘Namaste Trump’ event in Ahmedabad, “a very different scene was playing out in the streets of New Delhi”.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has promised to offer sanctuary to those with credible claims of fears of religious persecution under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
“However, with the bill excluding Muslims, critics have said the new rules are part of an agenda from the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to marginalize Muslims already in the country and bar others from entering India.”
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes had sharp words on the situation, reminding his viewers of the 2002 Gujarat riots, which happened under Modi’s watch, and the fact that the current Indian PM was denied entry into the US for years.
“And now, as prime minister, Narendra Modi has launched a full-scale assualt on the multi-religious principles India was founded on,” said Hayes, showing visuals of the riots in Delhi, which occurred even as Trump and Modi were merrily going on with their official programme.
Hayes ended his despatch by reporting, with some disbelief, that Trump praised Modi’s “religious freedom agenda”.
The Guardian said Trump’s visit to Delhi has been overshadowed by deadly protests.
Politico’s piece noted how Trump sidestepped questions on India’s new citizenship law, but said he “confronted Modi in private about his country’s treatment of Muslims”.
Trump used questions about the law on Tuesday, it added, “to once again defend his travel ban, which he signed just a week into his tenure, causing massive, nationwide protests and prompting lawsuits”.
The German publication posted a report by its Bengaluru correspondent Laura Höflinger which was titled ‘Showing off outside, protest inside’.
“India rolled out the red carpet on Tuesday for US President Donald Trump on the second day of a visit high on spectacular optics, but deadly unrest exposed religious tensions that his host is accused of stoking,” AFP reported.