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President Trump leaves a ‘Namaste Trump’ rally at a giant cricket stadium on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, on February 24, 2020. | Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Two very different scenes played out in New Delhi this week.

President Donald Trump wrapped up his first official visit to India on Tuesday, after touring the Taj Mahal in Agra, addressing massive crowds of fans at a stadium in Ahmedabad, and meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss trade and politics in New Delhi.

At one point, Trump praised the Indian leader for “working very hard on religious freedom.”

But just 10 miles away, in the capital’s working-class neighborhood of Maujpur, tensions between Hindus and Muslims boiled over into violence. At least 13 people, including both Muslims and Hindus, were killed. Dozens more were badly injured. Residents attacked each other with petrol bombs, clubs, and rocks. Muslim-owned shops and mosques were looted, burned down, and vandalized.

Police officers and paramilitary troops were called in, but some Muslims said the security forces didn’t intervene to stop the Hindu mobs. The violence, which broke out Sunday and continued through Tuesday, was the deadliest communal clash the Indian capital has seen in decades.

Yet Trump and Modi carried on with their scheduled lunch and meetings on Tuesday as if all was well. The American president refused to comment on the Hindu-Muslim violence or the controversial new citizenship law that triggered it, saying only, “I want to leave that to India. And hopefully they’re going to make the right decision for the people.”

Hundreds of thousands of Indians are in their third month of protests against a citizenship law that will fast-track citizenship for migrants from many religious minorities, but not for Muslims. Human rights advocates are challenging it in the Supreme Court on the grounds that it’s unconstitutional.

India is home to 200 million Muslims, or 14 percent of the Hindu-majority country. Under Modi, they are facing mounting threats to their status and safety.

The new law is closely linked with the National Register of Citizens, part of the government’s effort to weed out people it claims are illegal immigrants in the northeastern state of Assam. Residents there have a limited time to prove that they are legitimate citizens — or risk being rounded up into massive new detention camps and, ultimately, deported.

Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has said it plans to extend the NRC process to the whole country. With so many people facing the threat of detention and deportation, the United Nations and Human Rights Watch are warning that this could soon turn into a humanitarian crisis of horrifying proportions.

All this has turned India into a tinderbox ready to ignite. The killing this week in New Delhi threatens to set off a larger conflagration in a country with a long history of Hindu-Muslim riots.

The contrast between events that happened in parallel — a buzzy sightseeing tour for powerful leaders and a clash that’s left more than a dozen people dead — is perhaps best conveyed by photographs. We’ve selected a few below.

 Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
President Trump, first lady Melania Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the ‘Namaste Trump’ rally on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, on February 24, 2020.

 Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
“We will always remember this remarkable hospitality,” Trump said of the rally held in his honor at a gigantic cricket stadium. “We will remember it forever.”
 Noah Seelam/AFP via Getty Images
Police personnel detain an activist from the Centre of Indian Trade Unions during a protest against President Trump’s visit to India in Hyderabad, on February 24, 2020.
 Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
“We think we’re at a point where our relationship is so special with India, it has never been as good as it is now,” Trump said at the rally in Ahmedabad, where he shook hands with Modi.
 Noah Seelam/AFP via Getty Images
Activists from the Centre of Indian Trade Unions are detained during a protest in Hyderabad.

 Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
White House senior advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attend the ‘Namaste Trump’ rally. Over 100,000 people attended the rally.
 Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
Activists from All India Democratic Students Organization protest against the arrival of President Trump in New Delhi.
 Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
Members of the US Secret Service and Indian Special Protection Group (SPG) stand guard during ‘Namaste Trump’ rally.
 Anuwar Ali Hazarika/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Activists protest in Guwahati, India, against President Trump’s visit.
 Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
President Trump and Melania Trump visit the Taj Mahal in Agra on February 24, 2020.
 Yawar Nazir/ Getty Images
Indian police and paramilitary forces react to clashes between groups over the Citizenship Amendment Act in New Delhi, on February 24, 2020
 Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images
India’s President Ram Nath Kovind and his wife Savita Kovind greet President Trump and Melania Trump as they arrive at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, on February 25, 2020.
 Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP via Getty Images
Student activists protest against President Trump’s visit to India, in Kolkata.
 Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
An Indian policeman and a civilian were killed as clashes erupted between groups over the Citizenship Amendment Act, a controversial law that will fast-track citizenship for migrants from many religious minorities, but not for Muslims.
 Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
Demonstrations were held in Shaheen Bagh, a Muslim-majority area in New Delhi, where hundreds of women have been holding a sit-in protest over the past two months.
 Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
Indian police stand guard in front damaged vehicles and shops in New Delhi.
 Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
The violence that broke out Sunday and continued through Tuesday was one of the deadliest clashes the Indian capital has seen in decades.

 Alex Brandon/AFP via Getty Images
President Trump and Melania Trump stand with India’s President Ram Nath Kovind and his wife Savita Kovind during a state banquet at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Presidential Palace in New Delhi on February 25, 2020.
 Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
While the Trumps had a sumptuous banquet at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, havoc overtook the streets outside.
 Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Melania Trump visits a government school in New Delhi.
 Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
Women flee from an area where violence erupted in Delhi.
 Imtiyaz Khan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
President Trump flanked by Melania Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for reporters prior to a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.
 Indranil Aditya/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Protesters walk in traffic demonstrating against the arrival of President Trump in in Kolkata, India.
 Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave as they board Air Force One in Agra, India.


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Author: Sigal Samuel

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