The name Peter Friedrich made the headlines since Monday evening following the Delhi Police's briefing on the Greta Thunberg 'toolkit' document related to the ongoing farmers' protests. The police said that Friedrich's name " in the toolkit " appeared alongside all the social media handles to follow including fact-checking websites, "left-wing" news websites. His name, according to the Delhi Police, piqued the interest since he has been accused of associating with a Khalistani conspiracy and has been on the radar of security agencies since 2006
The development which raised alarms with the cops was when Friedrich was noticed in the company of Bhajan Singh Bhinder, alias Iqbal Choudhary. Bhinder is allegedly a leading player on the K2 (Kashmir-Khalistan) desk of the ISI. The police sent a request to video conferencing platform Zoom for details of a meeting allegedly organised on 11 January by pro-Khalistani organisation Poetic Justice Foundation, run by Mo Dhaliwal. There were 60 to 70 people in the meeting " including Disha Ravi, Nikita Jacob, Shantanu Muluk and Dhaliwal " during which the Republic Day agitations were planned and the toolkit was created based on the bullet points from the meeting, claimed the police.
Speaking to The Quint, when asked if Friedrich participated in this meeting, the police said, "We cannot confirm if Friedrich attended this meeting. That's why we have requested Zoom to share details. It could be that Friedrich attended this meeting through his genuine email ID or through some anonymous name. It is to be probed." Responding to the allegations of the Delhi Police labeling him as "working for Khalistani agenda", Friedrich said: "[The] Khalistan movement today " with which I have absolutely zero involvement " appears to me to be entirely propped up by the (Narendra) Modi regime for purposes of creating a Frankenstein monster on which it can blame all ills."
To get a better idea of the toolkit case and his role if any, Firstpost reached out to Friedrich with a set of questions.
Edited excerpts follow:
The Delhi Police has accused you of contributing to a 'toolkit' on the farmers' protest and has alleged that the document is a separatist plot against India. How would you respond to this allegation?
Isn't this the same Delhi Police that, one year ago this month, was accused of linking arms with Hindutva mobs to massacre Muslims in the Delhi riots? Has the Delhi Police caught all the rapists and murderers in the country that it has so much time on its hands to chase down peaceful activists and accuse them of a separatist plot against India for daring to create a social media guide about how to support the farmers' protest? Indian security forces today are infiltrated by and operating as agents of the Nazi-inspired RSS paramilitary.
One of the reasons you have been named in the case is that you were reportedly seen in the company of alleged ISI operative Bhajan Singh Bhinder. What is the nature of your association with him?
Bhajan Singh, though only one of many South Asian origin friends of all backgrounds, is perhaps the most genuine, biggest-hearted humanitarian I know. We have co-authored two books, including Captivating the Simple-Hearted, which is about how Sikhism originated as a fundamentally anti-caste social movement. A careful study of everything he has done in the past 20 years clearly reveals his intense love for the oppressed and his passion for working for the uplift of all downtrodden people.
You take a keen interest in current affairs of South Asia, particularly the rise of the RSS and BJP. What sparked this interest?
Growing up, I was horrified by the Holocaust and intensely disgusted by authoritarianism, but I knew very little about India until I encountered South Asian American immigrants. I soon learned about the 1984 Sikh Genocide, 2002 Gujarat riots, 2008 Odisha riots, the violence of the Partition, and much more. Coming from a sheltered childhood, I was fascinated by the multi-faceted cultures of the Indian subcontinent and completely overwhelmed as I swiftly encountered Sikhs, Ambedkarites, Indian Muslims and Christians, and Hindus. I first began grappling with the issue of Hindu nationalism in 2013 when, as Narendra Modi was named the BJP's candidate, I began advocating for a US Congress resolution that endorsed maintaining his US visa ban.
These issues became very personal for me when I was assaulted by Modi supporters in California, in full view of a passive police force, while protesting his "rockstar reception" in 2015. It was shocking that my constitutionally-guaranteed freedom to protest in America was being threatened by supporters of an Indian politician.
I discovered that Hindu nationalism and White nationalism share a great deal in common, both ideologically as well as in terms of modern-day interactions, such as the praise White nationalist terrorist Anders Breivik had for the RSS or the meetings between the RSS and alt-right publisher Arktos. Painstaking study of the RSS exposed to me how it is a Nazi-inspired paramilitary whose founders embraced an ethno-nationalist vision, expansionism in the form of "Akhand Bharat", and a desire to subjugate or eliminate all non-Hindus. At this point, standing against the oldest and largest fascist movement in the world is a moral obligation.
What is your view about the ongoing farmers' protest and the Indian government's response to it?
Nobody thinks the current agricultural system is flawless, but the new laws appear to be pure crony capitalism intended to place farmers at the mercy of ruthless multinational corporations. Further, what else is it but abuse for the regime to insist the farm laws benefit farmers and then force them down the throats of resisting farmers who say the laws don't benefit them? The regime's response to the protests has been appalling, but hardly unexpected considering the prime minister's record of governance tracing back to 2002. I fear the farmers protest may ultimately face the same brutal "final solution" as the anti-CAA/NRC protests faced.