Pieter Friedrich, the man under Indian investigating agencies' scanner in the "toolkit" case related to the farmers' protest on Monday issued a statement saying that he has been "targeted" because he has emerged as "one of North America’s most relentless voices against the rising fascism of the Modi regime &, particularly, the RSS, going so far as to work to have the RSS declared as a terrorist organization, which it is."
Delhi Police on Monday said Friedrich has been on the radar of the Indian security establishments since late 2006 when he was noticed in the company of Bhajan Singh Bhinder alias Iqbal Chaudhary. "He (Bhinder) has been a very leading proponent of the K2 (Kashmir-Khalistan) desk of ISI. Friedrich was associated with him," police said.
"Why his (Friedrich) name is there on the document or why should he (Friedrich) be followed will be answered by Disha and her associates. Did they contact Friedrich through Mo Dhaliwal or directly contact him is a matter of investigation," a senior police officer said.
In an article on his website, Pieter wrote, "As the Khalistan movement today — with which I have absolutely zero involvement — appears to me to be entirely propped up by the Modi regime for purposes of creating a Frankenstein monster on which it can blame all ills, it seems to serve no other purpose than as a Modi regime psy-op to distract attention from the crimes of the RSS-BJP. It’s laughable that the entire world today — from a white Christian writer like myself to a Black Barbadian singer like Rihanna — are labeled as supporters of a fictitious Sikh separatist state."
According to his website, Friedrich is an author, activist, speaker and traveller. "Pieter specializes in the analysis of historical and current affairs in South Asia. He engages with issues such as human rights, supremacist political ideologies, ethnonationalism, the politicization of religion, authoritarian government structures and policies, state-sponsored atrocities, and the need to unify around doctrines of liberty," his website reads.
"Pieter has lectured at Columbia University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, Carleton University, and St. Stephens College. A staunch advocate for religious liberty and interfaith cooperation, he has spoken at mosques, gurdwaras, churches, and viharas. He has travelled and lived in Europe and Asia," it adds.
A Mumbai lawyer and a Beed engineer joined arrested climate activist Disha Ravi in creating a protest toolkit backing the farmers' agitation with the stated aim of tarnishing the image of India and collaborated with pro-Khalistani elements, Delhi Police officials said on Monday.
Non-bailable warrants have been issued against lawyer Nikita Jacob and engineer Shantanu Muluk, who are absconding. On January 11, 15 days ahead of the Republic Day violence in the national capital, the two attended a Zoom meeting organised by pro-Khalistani group Poetic Justice Foundation, said Joint Commissioner of Police (Cyber) Prem Nath. The meeting decided the modalities to create the toolkit titled "Global Farmer Strike" and "Global Day of Action, 26 January", Nath said at a press conference.
Ravi, Jacob and Muluk created the toolkit and sent it to others, officials alleged. The document listed a series of actions, including creating a Twitter storm and protesting outside Indian embassies, to be taken to support the farmers' protest. Delhi Police had earlier asked Google and other social media giants to provide information about e-mail id, URLs and social media accounts related to the creators of the "toolkit" shared by Thunberg and others on Twitter in connection with the farmers' protest.
This was following the clashes on January 26 during the farmers' tractor parade on January 26 in the national capital. Over 500 police security personnel were injured while one protestor died during the Republic Day violence.
(With agency inputs)