08:28 GMT29 March 2020
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    For several days now Delhi has been shattered by violence that coincided with US President Donald Trump’s official visit to the country. Indian journalist and foreign policy analyst Amrita Dhillon has explained the failure to immediately nip the turmoil in the bud and commented on possible "external" influences.

    Riots that erupted in northeastern Delhi Sunday between pro- and anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters partially calmed down on 27 February.

    "Situation is normal. No incident took place today. Adequate forces have been deployed", the Delhi Police Public Relation Officer (PRO) reported Thursday, as cited by The Times of India.

    According to the media outlet, a total of 113 companies from the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) and Delhi Police have been dispatched to the troublesome areas of the national capital. To date, violent clashes have claimed the lives of 34 and left over 200 people injured.

    'East Delhi Faces Small-Scale Riots Frequently'

    Amrita Dhillon, Indian foreign affairs analyst and founding editor of The Kootneeti, a New Delhi-based publication on international relations and diplomacy, notes that Delhi turmoil kicked off while the Delhi Sikh riots of 1984 have not been completely forgotten.

    "It is hard to believe but we have to accept that even in 2020, there are a few regions in India's capital which are riot prone and the situation remain intense there", the analyst observes. "For example, if you look at the area of Trilokpuri in east Delhi, it faces small-scale riots very frequently. And even today, all the riots took place in northeast Delhi only. It only requires a spark to convert a clash into riots and this is what is happening today".

    The journalist highlights that the protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which have been simmering since December 2019 turned violent in February after being fuelled by a number of political statements. She cited the BJP's Kapil Mishra tweets on Sunday in which he threatened to forcefully remove CAA protesters once Donald Trump, who was expected to arrive on Monday, departed.

    Additionally, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen's Waris Pathan "a week ago addressed a big rally inciting a hatred-filled speech, saying "150 million Muslims were more than a match to 1 billion Hindus", she recollects.

    Dhillon remarks that it was rather surprising the clashes spiralled out of control amid Trump's visit, "as Delhi was converted into a high-security zone".

    The journalist does not rule out that "external" forces have also had a hand in the unrest. She notes that she observed a large number of "misleading old videos of communal riots at various places inside Delhi" and provocative hash tags about India's handling of the "coronavirus" posted on Twitter by supposed bots and proxy accounts from Pakistan amid Donald Trump's visit.

    India-Pakistani relations have reached their lowest point in decades since the 14 February 2019 attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist group, on an Indian security convoy in Kashmir and New Delhi's subsequent retaliatory Balakot aerial operation.

    Delhi, a City of Four Religions, Needs Peace

    Dhillon notes that Indians from both the Hindu and Muslim communities have been involved in the riots: "That's highly unfortunate and regardless of their faiths and affiliations they must be prosecuted by the authorities", she opines, adding that the Indian law enforcement authorities initially miscalculated the risk.

    ​"The issue was dealt with by the Delhi Police alone, however, the situation would've been brought under control if the CRPF/Rapid Action Forces against riots were called earlier", she presumes. "It only gets under control once the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was called into action and the entire situation went into the hands of National Security Advisor (NSA)".

    The analyst elaborates that since Delhi is a city of migrants where approximately 50% of the population came to the capital territory for jobs and education from other states of India they understand the necessity of maintaining peace in the region.

    "Delhi is a free city, a free spirit which has seen the rule of all four major religions in India, i,e. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians. It won't take long to unfold. Only the need here is to curtail the wings of hatemongering", she notes.

    Dhillon warns that "the risk of further escalation remains a challenge to the authorities". She insists that the situation can be stabilised through "strict actions against the fringe elements" and "immediate response to the politically inspired hate speeches against a specific community".

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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