In New York, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Gets Love And Hate From Indian-Americans

26/09/2015 3:24 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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NEW YORK-- Prime Minister Narendra Modi is getting his share of both love and hate in New York.

During his three-day visit stay in New York, Modi met at least a few hundreds of Indian-Americans in the Silicon Valley, if the steady stream of visitors waiting in the hotel lobby and pictures posted on the social media is any indication.

Meanwhile, a group of Sikhs and the Patidar community supporters demonstrated outside the UN headquarters, coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on Sustainable Development at a special UN summit.

Under the banner of Sikhs for Justice, over 200 Sikhs, alleging human rights violations in Punjab, demanded referendum in 2020 for a separate Khalistan. The protesters, raising anti-India and anti-Modi slogans, urged the world body to take steps to meet their demand.

“There is massive violations against minorities, in particular against Christians, Sikhs and Muslims,” SFJ leader Bakhshish Singh Sandhu claimed Friday.

Side by side in a separate enclosure were a few dozen members of the Patidar community from Gujarat who are living in different parts of the country. “We want justice from police brutalities. As many as 4,000 youths are still in police custody. There has been police brutality against innocent people. So far no action has been taken against the police officials responsible for this,” one Anil Patel claimed.

modi protest

The protesters were sporting caps of Sardar Patel Group from Gujarat, which is leading the movement for reservations for the Patel community in the State.

As several hundred people waited outside the hotel raising slogans amidst beating of drums, Modi came out of his secret service driven black SUV to meet his supporters.

Once inside the Waldrof Astoria, a few dozen eminent Indian-Americans were waiting for inside the lobby. As he personally recognised them, he called them to his meeting room.

One of them was with those who were involved in organising a successful reception for him last September at the Madison Square Garden, which was attended by a record 20,000 people.

Modi, who before becoming Gujarat Chief Minister had extensively travelled across the US, appears to know many of them personally and enquired about their family members joking with them occasionally.

He also met another group of Indian Americans the same night to take inputs from them on various policy issues related to India US relationship. One of the community leaders said on condition of anonymity that this was about defence.

On Wednesday night he also met Aseem Chhabra of Hindu American Foundation, who presented Modi with a welcome letter signed by over 200 leading academics in engineering, liberal arts, and the sciences. "Kem chho Aseembhai?" asked the Prime Minister in Gujarati, seeking his well-being.

In all these meetings, Modi posed for photographs with each one of them. Both on Thursday and Friday there was a steady stream of visitors waiting for him to meet in between his various official engagement. Some time, people waited for hours to meet him, very few went disappointed.

For instance on Thursday evening soon after his dinner with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, which was the last official engagement of the day-long hectic events, Modi met a group of over 50 members of the Overseas Friends of BJP-USA led by its president Chandrakant Patel.

OFBJP-USA, which had worked hard in his election campaign, was disappointed that he had not given him time last year. Not this year though. OFBJP members flew in from various parts of the US.

A steady stream of visitors was seen in the hotel lobby on Friday too the day when he spent his time at the UN and meeting various world leaders. Among those included a group of 20 Patels, who identified them as members of the Sardar Patel Group USA Canada.

"We submitted a signed memorandum to the Prime Minister," said Alpesh Patel after the meeting. The memorandum urged the prime minister to take action against those responsible for police brutalities and provide reservation in jobs on the basis of economic status. "We were supposed to meet him for five minutes, but he spent 15 minutes with us," he said.

Late in the evening, one of his old acquaintances turned up at the hotel unannounced. By that time the Prime Minister had left for a private dinner meeting.

"I have sent my (business) card. I am sure, I will get a call to meet him on Monday," the community leader said requesting that his name not be published. "He is a people's prime minister. This is how he works," the New Jersey based community leader said.

"Don't you get tired Narendra Bhai meeting so many people," asked his old-time friend Bharat Barai from Chicago on Wednesday night itself when the Prime Minister met about 100 people at the hotel.

"Modi smiled and said this is part of my job," Barai said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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