On February 24th, US President Donald Trump arrived in India on an official visit and meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Riots and violent clashes are continuing across India over a controversial citizenship law are continuing.
A policeman and six civilians have died in Delhi’s deadliest violence since the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – which critics say is anti-Muslim – was passed on December 9th, 2019.
The CAA, which eases the path for non-Muslims from neighbouring Muslim-majority nations to gain citizenship, has triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
The law is seen by opponents as discriminating against Muslims and has deepened concerns that Modi’s administration is undermining India’s secular traditions.
Around 150 people, including 48 policemen, are reportedly injured.
The protests ramped up ahead of Trump’s visit and are continuing while he is in the country.
On February 23rd, hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it, with the two groups pelting each other with stones in the Maujpur area in the northeastern part of New Delhi.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for calm on February 25th, as clashes kept happening in New Delhi.
Am v worried abt prevailing situation in certain parts of Del. All of us together shud make all efforts to restore peace in our city. I again urge everyone to shun violence
Am meeting all MLAs (of all parties) of affected areas along wid senior officials in a while
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 25, 2020
Trump is expected to raise the issue of religious freedom in the country with Modi.
On February 25th, Trump was asked about the violence in Delhi, and what PM Modi told him about it.
To which he replied, “We did talk about religious freedom. The PM said he wants people to have religious freedom. They have worked really hard on it. I heard about the individual attacks but I did not discuss it. It is up to India.”
Trump also mentioned the CAA and said nothing of significance:
“I don’t want to discuss the CAA, I want to leave that to India and hopefully they will make the right decision for their people.”
Thus, any hopes that Trump would assume any position were baseless.
Meanwhile, Trump boasted that his visit was “great” and that India would invest billions in the US.
Trump and Modi praised each other during the joint rally. Modi welcomed Trump to the world’s biggest democracy, while Trump spoke of the close ties between the two countries. Trump called Modi an “exceptional leader” who works “night and day for his country.”
“America loves India, America respects India, and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people,” Trump continued.
Both leaders acknowledged they had not been able to sign a trade deal, but announced that negotiations would continue.
“Our commerce ministers have had positive talks on trade. Both of us have decided that our teams should give legal shape to these trade talks. We also agreed to open negotiations on a big trade deal. At the global level, our relationship is depended on the similar democratic values we share,” Modi said.
But there were deals in defense.
India is to buy attack helicopters and other US military equipment worth $3bn, Trump said as the two men delivered a joint statement.
“We also discussed defence in detail and have agreed on a comprehensive defence deal. The deal would include procurement of 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters by India. Another contract to acquire six AH-64E Apache helicopters,” he said.
They also announced co-operation in fighting radical Islamist terrorism and deepening energy ties, as well as pledging to work together to make 5G technology safer. As part of the deals announced, US firm Exxon Mobil and Indian Oil have signed an agreement to help India import more Liquefied Natural Gas (LPG).
About the long-pending trade deal with India, Trump said the following:
“We have been charged large amounts of tariff. That cannot happen. Harley Davidson paying huge tariff on bikes exported to India while Indian bike companies exporting bikes to the US at 0% tariff.. US has to be treated fairly. We are working on that.”
“As far as bilateral trade is concerned, our commerce ministers have had very positive discussions. President Trump and I, we have both agreed that the understanding reached by our commerce ministers will take it forward to give it a legal shape. We have also agreed to initiate negotiations for a bigger deal,” Narendra Modi said.
It does show, however, how blind the Trump administration is to anything that goes beyond the interests of its allied governments. The Indian people are protesting against the CAA, violence is escalating on the streets, at the same time Donald Trump says that everything is in order and he trusts India, as the “biggest democracy in the world.”
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