US President Donald Trump shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a joint press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on February 25, 2020
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a joint press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on February 25, 2020
Photo: AFP

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held meetings in Delhi with President Donald Trump, even as not too far away, parts of the national capital saw violent protests.

Both the incidents were covered widely by Indian media outlets, although perhaps it is not wrong to say that the Presidential visit seemed to take precedence.

In foreign media, the Delhi violence received limited mention. Or perhaps, it is more accurate to say that it was not mentioned quite as much in context with the President's state visit to India.

The South China Morning Post for example, focused on the "pageantry" that came with Trump's "raucous welcome" to the country, making only a brief mention of the tensions that have been simmering in the country over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act. In another article the publication looked at the "common threat China" as pertaining to closer Indo-US ties.

Foreign publications also commented on Trump's pronunciation gaffes and the itinerary taken up by him. The Guardian for example dedicated a headline to the President's mispronunciation of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar's first name as 'Soo-chin'.

Not all publications however followed the same pattern. "Wrapping up a two-day trip to India, President Trump declined on Tuesday to condemn India's new citizenship law, which discriminates against Muslims..." was the opening line of a news piece in a major American newspaper.

While some media organisations, such as The Washington Post, mentioned the violence sweeping through the national capital, one of the strongest critics was MSNBC's Chris Hayes. Speaking on air during his show he said that Trump had "done nothing but lavish praise" on Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his two day visit.

"That's a guy who was Chief Minister of a state, Gujarat, that saw mass mob violence against Muslims in 2002, with up to 2,000 people killed -- which Modi's administration turned a blind eye to. In fact, get this, Modi was denied a visa to the US for years because of the role he played in allowing that anti-Muslim violence to happen," Hayes reminded viewers.

According to reports, Modi had been prohibited for nearly a decade from entering the United States prior to his elevation to Prime Minster of India. The ban was enforced in 2005, when the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom convinced the US government to deny a tourist visa to Modi.

"He wasn't allowed to enter the US before he was Prime Minister -- that's Narendra Modi. And now, as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has launched a full scale assault on the multi-religious principles India was founded on," Hayes added.

He also cited the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act that has triggered widespread protests across India. While protests have continued since the Act was passed in December 2019, Delhi has recently been rocked by violent clashes between those who support the Act and those who are against it.

On air, Hayes cited footage purportedly from the recent incidents of violence to add that "this is what it looked like in Delhi" while President Trump was in India.

Describing it as "Modi's agenda of Hindu supremacy and Hindu nationalism" Hayes spoke about mobs that are "marked with a saffron stripe or carrying a saffron flag" who occasionally shout his name.

Hayes said there were "reports of police officers encouraging mobs to burn down Muslims' property, or police standing by as Muslims are beaten or attacked". Citing a report by The Wire he also spoke about a mosque that had been set on fire on Tuesday.

"The clashes have killed 11-13 people -- both we should note -- Muslims and Hindu," he added.

On Tuesday the death toll reached 13 in Delhi. Since then, it has now climbed to 23, with nearly 200 injured.

Prime Minister Modi on Wednesday took to Twitter to appeal for peace, while Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recommended Army involvement.

When asked about the CAA on Tuesday, President Trump had said that it was "India's internal matter". He also said that India had worked to have "great and open religious freedom". He had added that this was something the Prime Minister wanted people to have.

"If you look at what's going on relatively in other countries, they have religious freedom," he had said.

Asked about the violence over the CAA in Delhi, Trump said that the two leaders did not discuss it, although he had "heard about it"., but we did not discuss it."

Chris Hayes also criticised Trump for praising "Narendra Modi's religious freedom agenda".

The American media appeared to have taken Trump's refusal to criticise the Act as backing the Modi government's CAA. "Trump appeared to back Modi's concern that the majority-Hindu country is being overrun by Muslims," one of the reports that appeared in a leading US newspaper read.

(With inputs from agencies)

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