US Congressman Escorted Out of Event After Being Heckled Over Alleged Ties With India's RSS - Video

CC0 / / US Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi
US Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi  - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.05.2022
Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the US Congress, is part of an informal group of four Indian-American House of Representatives members referred to as the “Samosa Caucus”. He has been one of the most ardent advocates for the US and India’s “essential security partnership” and “ongoing cultural exchanges”.
US Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi was escorted out of an event after he was aggressively questioned by a heckler over his good relations with India’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), as seen in a video shared on Twitter on Wednesday.
The Hindu nationalist RSS is the ideological parent organisation of India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In the video, the heckler could be heard asking Krishnamoorthi, a three-time representative from Illinois, about “his views” on human rights issues in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Pieter Friedrich, the person who heckled Krishnamoorthi, shared the video after the tense exchange.

“Congressman, what are your views on the RSS?” he is heard asking.

“You have nothing to say”, he shouts, as Krishnamoorthi is escorted out of the venue.

“Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi has no answer for me”, Friedrich says, this time facing the camera.

As per his website, Friedrich is a “freelance journalist specialising in analysis of current and historical affairs in South Asia” and focuses on the issue of Hindu nationalism.
He has been involved in a campaign to force Krishnamoorthi to step down from office over his alleged proximity to Hindu nationalist groups allied with the RSS, a charge the congressman denies.
The lawmaker has come under criticism for allegedly attending events organised by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), a New Jersey-based nonprofit “inspired” by the RSS, but which has no formal affiliation with the Indian organisation.

Friedrich is also associated with other American organisations as well as a few Democrat lawmakers who have been critical of the Indian authorities' policy towards the Muslim population under the current government. Critics of the RSS, including Pakistan's former PM Imran Khan, accuse it of driving the "anti-Muslim" policies of Prime Minister Modi's government.

Five democrats, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, have raised concerns over the safety of Muslims in India. They have also been critical of India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), its policy in Kashmir, as well as New Delhi’s anti-terror legislation -- the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
US critics say that these laws, as well several state-level anti-religious conversion laws, discriminate against Muslims, who make up 20 percent of India's population.
On the bilateral level, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar on 11 April in Washington that the Biden administration was monitoring “human rights abuses” by government and police officials.

"We regularly engage with our Indian partners on these shared values (of human rights) and to that end, we are monitoring some recent concerning developments in India including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials", Blinken said.

Jaishankar, however, rebutted Blinken’s observation a day later at a different event, indicating that New Delhi won’t be “reticent” to speak about human rights concerns in the US.

“But we are also equally entitled to have views about their views and about the interests, and the lobbies and the vote banks which drive that. So, whenever there is a discussion, I can tell you that we will not be reticent about speaking out”, the Indian foreign minister warned.

Last May, Jaishankar said during a visit to the US that criticism of India's human rights record was part of a "political effort to depict our government in a certain way".
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