Huge Crowd Welcomes Trump, Indians Protest Citizenship Law

Associated Press
February 24, 2020 - 5:31 am

AHMEDABAD, India (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's visit to India (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Indian police used tear gas and smoke grenades to disperse a crowd of clashing protesters in New Delhi on Monday as violence broke out over a new citizenship law just ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to the city.

While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi feted Trump at a mega-rally in the west Indian city of Ahmedabad, clashes erupted in New Delhi between hundreds of supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law that provides fast-track naturalization for some foreign-born religious minorities, but not Muslims.

Anti-Trump street demonstrations broke out in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Gauhati. But also in Delhi, a group of Hindu nationalists held a prayer meeting and offered a blessing by putting a vermilion mark on the forehead of Trump’s photograph in a poster. A priest chanted Hindu hymns wishing Trump success in his endeavor for strong ties with India.

2:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is hailing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a “Namaste Trump” rally at a huge cricket stadium that undoubtedly is the biggest audience the president has ever addressed.

Trump is telling the tens of thousands of people gathered in the Indian city of Ahmedabad that he will always remember the "remarkable hospitality” they have showed him. In his speech Monday, Trump called Modi a "tremendously successful leader" who has transformed the country.

Modi has given Trump a jubilant welcome with thousands of people lining the streets, including a parade of hundreds of dancers and musicians in colorful traditional dress.

Trump announced more military sales to India, including helicopters, and said he is working with Modi on a trade deal. The audience cheered when Trump mentioned U.S. strikes on radical Islamic extremists and when he said that the U.S. was working with Pakistan to crack down on militants operating on the Pakistani border.


1:30 p.m.

Addressing the event, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said history is being scripted at the Motera stadium.

Modi recalled his visit to America with a “Howdy Modi” rally in Houston five months ago.

He said Trump now is starting his journey in India in Ahmedabad with a rally named “Namaste Trump."

Modi welcomed Trump to the “biggest democracy in the world” and led the crowd in chanting “Long live India-U.S. friendship.”


12:30 p.m.

Thousands of well-wishers waving U.S. and Indian flags lined the streets of Ahmedabad to welcome President Donald Trump on his maiden trip to India.

Trump's motorcade rolled slowly from the airport to a former home of independence leader Mohandas Gandhi. Along the miles, everyday people mixed with colorfully costumed musicians and dancers performing folk dances.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump removed their shoes before entering the ashram for a tour personally led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Trump signed the guest book, referring to Modi as “my great friend” and thanking him for a “wonderful visit.”

Their next stop is a rally at a huge cricket stadium in Modi's hometown, where throngs of supporters await.

At the stadium, Bollywood songs with a nationalistic pitch played as a cheerful crowd, many of them students, wearing Trump and Modi masks, awaited the leaders.

Videos showing rich colors of the Indian culture and heritage projected on giant screens.

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