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US watchdog condemns India’s deadly protests

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemned Wednesday deadly protests in the Indian capital of New Delhi that left more than 20 dead.

The U.S. watchdog “expresses grave concern,” with USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins calling the “violence we are witnessing in Delhi and the reported attacks against Muslims, their homes and shops, and their houses of worship are greatly disturbing,” in a statement.

He said the Indian government must protect and ensure safety of its citizens.

“We urge the Indian government to take serious efforts to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence,” he said.

USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava said the “brutal and unchecked violence” cannot continue, and called for “swift action” from the Indian government to ensure the safety of all of its citizens.

“These incidents are even more concerning in the context of efforts within India to target and potentially disenfranchise Muslims across the country, in clear violation of international human rights standards,” said Bhargava.

The USCIRF lists India as a Tier 2 country of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act in its 2019 annual report.

The U.S. Embassy in India also issued a security advisory for Americans in India, urging them to “exercise caution in light of violent demonstrations in Northeast Delhi and avoid all areas with demonstrations.”

More than 20 people were killed and 200 were injured in protests against India’s controversial new citizenship law — passed in December — in New Delhi.

Several mosques have also been set on fire or vandalized. Many Muslim residents have been forced to flee the area.

The clashes erupted Sunday in northeast Delhi between pro- and anti-citizenship law protesters and took a violent turn Monday when U.S. President Donald Trump kicked off a two-day trip to India.

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