While on one side Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being hosted for the grand State Dinner at the White House by US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, on the other, policy makers and experts who boycotted his speech at the Congress gathered for a policy briefing on India on the Capitol Hill, discussing the Indian leader's human rights record.
Modi addressed the state dinner hosted in his honour by US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at the North Lawn of the White House.
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who boycottted Modi's address to the Congress said, "Dissidents, journalists and their families are targeted with violence and political persecution. Even advocates outside of India, fear that their family members might be targeted if they speak out."
As PM Modi is being hosted for a state dinner at The White House, policymakers and experts gather for a Policy briefing on India on the Capitol Hill— Indian American Muslim Council (@IAMCouncil) June 22, 2023
Congresswoman @IlhanMN is delivering her remarks on the persecution of minorities and democratic backsliding. pic.twitter.com/Ck0CFiYxQm
She referred to Modi’s previous ban from entering the US "as the US State Department found him complicit in the Gujarat riots 2002." "Modi later banned a BBC documentary that highlighted his complicity in the riots. And we are told now that we must turn a blind eye to the repression because of foreign policy concerns even though human rights are supposed to be at the centre of our foreign policy," she noted.
Another Muslim Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib had announced her decision to boycott Modi's speech saying that the ‘Modi government has repressed religious minorities’.
Stephen Schneck, Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom supported a call to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern.
Country of Particular Concern (CPC) is a designation by the United States Secretary of State (under authority delegated by the President) of a nation guilty of particularly severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998 (H.R. 2431) and its amendment of 1999 (Public Law 106-55).
The term "particularly severe violations of religious freedom" means systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.
More Congresspeople boycott Modi's speech
In the run up to Modi's address to the Congress, alongside Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), and Kweisi Mfume (D-MD) also announced their decision to boycott his speech. The lawmakers cited human rights violations in India as their reason behind the decision, according to a press release by Indian American Muslim Council.
New York City saw trucks with screens calling on US President Joe Biden to ask Modi tough questions about human rights violations in India.