Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the rock star treatment when he arrived in New York this weekend.
However, his detractors – even those who have criticized his politics and policies in the past – didn’t receive the same warmth at the home of the greatest democracy on the planet.
Veteran journalist Rajdeep Sardesai was subjected to shocking taunts by a group of Modi supporters outside New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden before one member of what Sardesai called a “frenzied mob” physically assaulted the respected TV anchor.
Sardesai, the Oxford-educated former editor-in-chief of India’s IBN 18 Network, later tweeted: “Great crowd at Madison Square Garden! Except a few idiots who still believe abuse is a way of proving their machismo!”
He added, “Glad we caught the idiots on cam. Only way to shame the mob is to show them”.
The video footage of the incident has been widely circulated on YouTube and Twitter.
According to reports supporters of Mr Modi had become enraged after a tweet by Sardesai alluded to the Prime Minister staying at the same hotel as controversial Indian industrialist Gautam Adani.
Mr Adani, the billionaire owner of mining and ports giant The Adani Group, is said to have enjoyed favourable terms on a number of infrastructure projects in Mr Modi’s home state of Gujarat in return for supporting Mr Modi’s prime ministerial campaign.
Fellow journalist Achint Sharma took to his Facebook page to describe what occurred: “The mob called Rajdeep by names and hurled the choicest of words towards him. When I tried to shield the fellow journalist, I realised, that I became a target as well.
“This went on for good 10-15 minutes. The NYPD was right there, but won’t blame them for not knowing what was going on in the middle of that crowd of 50 odd people. The cameraman had to ensure his equipment was safe, so was trying his best he could, to fend off a few people who tried to come closer to Rajdeep. This went on for good 10 minutes.
Despite my repeated requests to stay away from Rajdeep, the mob continued to shout pro-Modi slogans right in front of his face to instigate him. A particular person wearing glasses, and once again in an orange attire, almost shoved his phone into the cameraman’s lens to which Rajdeep protested.
Luckily, fellow scribes Mohit Roy Sharma and Bhupendra Chaubey arrived at the scene. Three of us literally made a human chain, to get Rajdeep out of that place.
Yes, you have every right to be a supporter, but let’s not mix a fan with a fanatic. Learn to respect other people. Learn to respect to earn respect. Just a few minutes ago, the Prime Minster delivered a lovely speech about peace and how India is a great democracy. But you guys defy all logic.”