These lawmakers are skipping PM Modi's US Congress address | Who are they? | World News - Hindustan Times
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These lawmakers are skipping PM Modi's US Congress address | Who are they?

Jun 22, 2023 01:19 PM IST

PM Modi in US: PM Modi, who is on a three-day state visit to the United States, will address a joint sitting of the US Congress.

US lawmakers Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamie Raskin would not be attending the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s joint congressional address, alleging that the ‘Modi-led union government in India has repressed religious minorities’.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (AP)
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (AP)

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PM Modi, who is on a three-day state visit to the United States, will address a joint sitting of the US Congress, for a second time – a first for an Indian and a rare honour.

These senators have alleged that the government at the centre has emboldened violent Hindu nationalist groups and the human rights record have cited less press freedom, restrictions on minority religious rights and other forms of discrimination and backsliding on democratic rights.

Read here: 'I live freely in PM Modi's India': Muslim leader's reply to US lawmaker Ilhan Omar

A total of 75 Democratic senators and members of the House of Representatives have wrote to President Biden to discuss human rights issues with Modi. "We do not endorse any particular Indian leader or political party — that is the decision of the people of India — but we do stand in support of the important principles that should be a core part of American foreign policy," the letter read.

While, Omar, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez have decided to boycott the keynote address, Raskin clarified that due to his daughter’s wedding, he won't be able to attend the address, though he signed a letter protesting human rights violations in India.

Here is a list of the lawmakers skipping PM Modi's address:

1. Rashida Tlaib

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is a Democratic representative of Michigan's 12th District in House of Representatives. She made the history in 2008 by becoming the first Muslim woman to ever serve in the Michigan Legislature.

While criticising India's human rights condition, she wrote, "It’s shameful that Modi has been given a platform at our nation’s capital—his long history of human rights abuses, anti-democratic actions, targeting Muslims & religious minorities, and censoring journalists is unacceptable. I will be boycotting Modi’s joint address to Congress."

Read here: 'A big deal...': PM Modi to take two questions in presser with Joe Biden

2. Ilhan Omar

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is a Democratic representative of Minnesota's 5th congressional district in House of Representatives. She is also a member of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party.

Omar, who has been accused of hinduphobia by various Hindu groups in the US, wrote, "Prime Minister Modi’s government has repressed religious minorities, emboldened violent Hindu nationalist groups, and targeted journalists/human rights advocates with impunity. I will NOT be attending Modi’s speech. I WILL be holding a briefing with human rights groups to discuss Modi’s record of repression and violence," Ilhan Omar wrote.

Earlier during a Congressional hearing, she sparked controversy by attacking Aarti Tikoo Singh, a Kashmiri Hindu whose family experienced the ethnic cleansing of 1990 in the Kashmir Valley.

3. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Ocasio-Cortez, also known by her initials AOC, is a democratic member representing New York's 14th congressional district in House of Representatives.

Read here: PM Modi's special gifts for Joe, Jill Biden: Sandalwood box, green diamond: PICS

In a tweet, the New York Democrat urged her colleagues who stand for “pluralism, tolerance and freedom of speech” to join her boycott. "I encourage my colleagues who stand for pluralism, tolerance, and freedom of the press to join me in doing the same," she wrote while arguing Congress shouldn’t extend such an honour to “individuals with deeply troubling human rights records – particularly for individuals whom our own State Department has concluded are engaged in systematic human rights abuses of religious minorities and caste-oppressed communities.”

4. Jamie Raskin

Raskin, a Democratic member, is an American attorney, law professor, and politician serving as the US representative for Maryland's 8th congressional district in House of Representatives.

He took to Twitter to clarify that he is not boycotting the address but because of his daughter's wedding, he won't be able to be in attendance for the joint sessional address.

Read here: US President Joe Biden bonds with PM Modi, transforming India-US ties

He wrote, "To correct the record, I am not boycotting Prime Minister Modi’s visit. I am going to my daughter’s wedding. Nor has the CPC called for a boycott. I signed a letter protesting human rights violations in India and hope that Pres. Biden will raise this serious problem with PM Modi."

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