Leader of Indian community accused of threatening Auckland protesters

A leader of the Indian community is being accused of threatening Auckland protesters calling out Islamophobia in New Delhi.

Hundreds of people have been protesting a controversial citizenship law which excludes those of the Muslim faith.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) fast tracks citizenship for illegal migrants in India fleeing persecution in their home countries. 

The law covers minorities of many faiths - Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jain, Parsi and Christians, but does not extend to Muslims.

Doctor Sapna Samant has been protesting for months but has learned speaking out comes at a cost.

After a rally in August she says she received a threatening phone call from the President of the Manukau Indian Association. 

Samant says she was threatened by Veer Khar. She quotes him as saying, "How can you criticize the government of India? We are watching you."

"He said we are the High Commission of India."

Before the law was enacted, VKhar posted on Facebook warning people the High Commission of India may halt visas for those protesting.

Khar told Newshub visa restrictions had previously been placed on people attending "anti-India" events. 

But when asked if he had specifically called protesters to tell them they are being watched, his response was more vague. 

"I talk to hundreds and hundreds of people."

Last month protesters in India clashed with extremists and 52 people died.

Two-thirds of those killed in the violence in New Delhi have been identified as Muslims.

But Khar says journalists should not be pointing this out. 

"If you look at the people who died there, there's all types of people, all age groups, everyone - why are we talking about [a] majority?

The Indian High Commission in Wellington says Khar does not represent it in any capacity. 

It has not denied visas for protesters, but it did not deny watching them. 

Paramjeet Singh from the High Commission says a more positive word for what they're doing is "engaging".

"If you want to look at the negative aspects of it you could use all kinds of terms like watching, spying etcetera, etcetera," he told Newshub. 

Singh insisted the High Commission aims to engage with the Indian community in a healthy manner. 

"We call it engaging and that is one of our roles here, that we need to put across our viewpoints to them.” 

"Sometimes they may be wrong in their perceptions and we need to change their perceptions," said Singh.

Dr Samant says the High Commissioner should engage with people at future CAA protests to understand their concerns. 


"Let him come and talk to us. Join us. We'll give him a cup of Chai."


But a written invitation has gone unanswered.