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US urges India to ‘protect and respect’ right to peaceful assembly

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Washington, Feb 28: The US has urged India to “protect and respect” the right to peaceful assembly of people and hold accountable those perpetrating violence following the Delhi riots over the amended citizenship act, saying that Washington has raised the issue at the highest level with New Delhi.

“We strongly condemn the recent violence and urge authorities to protect and respect the right of peaceful assembly and hold accountable those perpetrating violence. We call on all parties to maintain peace and refrain from violence,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI.

“We have raised these issues at the highest levels and continue to engage the Government of India on issues related to religious freedom,” the official said responding to a question.

Underlining that respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law are fundamental principles of the two democracies, the official said, “We note Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for peace and the Indian government’s pledge to prevent further violence and restore normalcy.”

Modi appealed for calm and peace in Delhi on February 26.

Indian-American Neera Tanden, who heads the Center for American Progress think-tank said that “the violence against Muslims in India” is horrifying and destroys India’s role as a beacon for democracy in Asia.

“The Modi government’s actions have created this climate and it must put an end to this. India as we know it is changing for the worse before our eyes,” Democrat Tanden said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in a statement, urged the US government to strongly condemn the violence in Delhi.

“The international community, including the US, must speak out against the growing sectarian attacks in India fuelled by anti-Muslim legislation and hate rhetoric emanating from the highest levels of Indian society,” CAIR said.

In a statement, Indian Overseas Congress (IOC) expressed serious concern over the violence.