The photo of the U.S. President and the First Lady standing in front of the iconic Taj Mahal is as expected of a visit to India. It is also emblematic of Muslim rule from the late 12th century until the 18th when the Mughal Empire disintegrated, eventually enabling the British to cobble together the pieces.
The Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, built the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum for his beloved wife Mumtaz — hence Mumtaz Mahal, corrupted by the local dialect to Mumtaj and abbreviated to Taj.
He had intended to build a corresponding structure in black marble on the opposite bank of the river as his own burial place but he was deposed by impatient, quarrelsome sons, of whom Aurangzeb emerged victor after a bloody civil war. Overly religious and ascetic, he was not inclined to such extravagance, and had the old king buried next to his wife. It is why the Queen occupies center stage in the Taj and the King is to one side.
The man whose name Trump could not pronounce, giving up in his attempt, Yogi Adityanath is an ardent Hindu nationalist and current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, having been appointed by Modi in March 2017. He is notorious for removing the Taj Mahal from the state’s tourism list, and substituting it with “temples from Mathura, Ayodha and Gorakhpur.” So reported New Indian Express. Born Ajay Singh Bisht and all of 5 ft. 4 ins, the fiery Yogi’s rhetoric has been yielding results.
Added to by senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kapil Mishra who warned police to clear the anti-CAA protesters or there would be consequences. The CAA or Citizenship Amendment Act is seen by many as anti-Muslim.
Consequences there were and 13 people were killed during the Trump-Modi bro love fest. Since then the toll has risen to 27 dead and a couple of hundred injured while Muslim neighborhoods of Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Mustafabad and Shiv Vihar have been vandalized. Mosques have been attacked, vehicles burned and buildings set alight. Muslims have been seen fleeing their homes carrying whatever belongings they can.
Reminiscent of 1984 when Sikhs were the target of militant Hindu mobs, local Hindu residents say the perpetrators are outsiders.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is sufficiently concerned to have asked for the army to be brought in to restore order as the police are heavily outnumbered — one policeman has been killed.
Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi blames the BJP Home Minister Amit Shah, and has called for his resignation. He has a history of polarizing tactics to win elections.
The highly respected human rights organization, Amnesty International, has accused the Trump and Modi governments of anti-Muslim policies. Margaret Huang, Amnesty’s US executive director, did not mince words saying, “Anti-Muslim sentiment permeates the policies of both US and Indian leaders [and the new] shared values [of the U.S. – India relationship] are discrimination, bigotry and hostility toward [Muslim] refugees and asylum seekers.”
Noting also the Kashmir lockdown, which is having devastating economic consequences as reported by the BBC and others, Amnesty International India executive director Arvind Kumar called on Trump and Modi to address Amnesty’s concerns in their bilateral talks.
These talks are over but defenseless Muslims in India continue to be marginalized, attacked and even killed.