Modi, BJP’s Indian American Friends face growing US scrutiny

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Indian American friends of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are facing growing scrutiny from the US authorities under a law that requires Americans working for or on behalf of foreign governments or entities to register themselves and their organisations as “foreign agents”.

Investigations are currently understood to be underway against an unspecified number of Indian Americans, who include one person who has claimed to be a long-time friend and supporter of the Indian Prime Minister and who has been at the forefront of many diaspora rallies and outreach involving Modi and senior members of his cabinet.

A spokesperson for the National Security Divi-sion of the US Department of Justice that administers the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) that has triggered these investigations, refused to confirm or deny whether two Indian Americans – specifically named in the request – were being investigated under FARA.

“Please note that the FARA Unit does not issue advisory opinions to third parties, or provide com-ment on any activities the staff conducts in its efforts to enforce the Act,” the spokesperson replied in a written response.

Just this past July, a Texas-based organisation became the second organisation set up by Indian Americans to register themselves under FARA – Ethos Foundation (DBA – Bharati Foundation). Its office-bearers are a US-based Indian citizen and two Americans of Indian descent. It was not immediately clear if the organization was forced to register itself under FARA by the US authorities or did so voluntarily.

Overseas Friends of BJP-USA was the first or-ganisation formed by Indian Americans that was forced to register itself with the US Justice Depart-ment under FARA in August 2020.—INP