Leading television anchor Rajdeep Sardesai was roughed up by pro-Modi supporters outside the Madison Square Garden in New York, shortly before the prime minister's address.
A small group of people, some of them in saffron robes, started yelling at the journalist who was standing at the steps to the main entrance of the arena because of his reporting of Modi and his administration after the 2002 Godhra riots. He was also pushed around by some of them before others intervened to stop the heckling.
It was not clear what started the incident. “The Prime Minister would not be very happy when he comes to know about what you guys are doing today. I am an Indian too and here to cover our Prime Minister’s visit,” Sardesai told people trying to rough him up.
“I think these people still hold my reporting after the 2002 Godhra massacre against me and continue to have grudge against me,” Sardesai told this correspondent who was present at the scene in response to a question. Later Sardesai tweeted, “Glad we caught the idiots on camera. Only way to shame the mob is to show them.”
The news created quite a buzz on social networking site Twitter after @JFK_America posted, “Mob of people attacking an Indian journalist for being critical of Modi on the past. Accused if being a traitor”.
Sardesai, who quit as the editor-in-chief of IBN 18 Network in July, tweeted, "Great crowd at Modison square garden! except a few idiots who still believe abuse is a way of proving their machismo!"
The small video of him being manhandled hit YouTube and was shared numerous times on Twitter.
Later talking exclusively to Rediff.com's Chaya Babu of the heckling, Sardesai said: “I got pushed around a little, but it’s par for the course as a journalist. Most people here are good people.”
Some overzealous supporters also made extremely disparaging remarks about a motley group of protestors gathered under the banner Alliance for Justice and Accountability right opposite the main entrance of MSG on the Seventh Avenue. Holding banners and buntings, the AJA raised anti-Modi slogans protesting his alleged hateful and divisive agenda.
“The humans are standing on this side of the street and the dogs are on the other side,” one person was overheard as saying.
Image: TV grab of crowd outside Madison Square roughing up journalist Rajdeep Sardesai
-- With inputs from PTI