NEW YORK: From New Jersey, Aamir Ali and wife Farida blended in with the large contingent of Dawoodi Bohra community who attended the Madison Square Garden address of PM Modi.
He sat along with his community members and cheered along when Modi delivered the punch lines to the audience of 19,000, mostly who had helped him with his poll campaign.
But, Ali is originally from Pakistan. “I came through the community association who brought a big group. I really wanted to listen to Mr Modi,” he said. “He is very impressive. I think he can change India,” said Ali, who left Pakistan over two decades ago. Large number of Dawoodi Bohras had migrated from Pakistan, after some of them faced discrimination.While Ali came rather near, other South Asians got an indirect look-see ferrying the large number of Indians who had invaded Big Apple for Modi.
With South Asians accounting for 50 per cent of New York’s 30,000 yellow taxi drivers, they got a front-seat to the excitement of Indian-Americans.
Iqbal Butt, a Pakistani taxi driver from Lahore, had got a number of trips taking Indians from across town to the Madison Square Garden. “You people caused the traffic jam,” he said jokingly.
He believes Modi will be good for India.
“Look how much protocol the US have laid for him. and look at Pakistan. Please ask Imran Khan if what he is doing is good for the country. We didn’t even know that our PM was in town, except for the UN protest,” he said.
From Jessore, Awami League supporter Razib Mamun also praised Modi. “He is very patriotic. I think Indo-Bangla ties will be good.”
But, not all South Asians were equally friendly. Outside the White House in Washington, Kashmiris from the Pakistan side of state had come with families in three big buses from New Jersey. They bemoaned the lack of coverage of their protests to coincide with Modi’s visit.
As they packed up for the day on Monday, Zubair Hussain from Rawalkot, said: “Tell your government, unless Kashmir is free, there will never be peace”.