Indian and Indian American leaders condemn violent actions at U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON DC, Jan 12, 2021  – 

The United States India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) and Robinder Sachdev, President of the Imagindia Institute hosted a live panel to discuss the recent events at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Panelists included Shekar Narasimham, Founder & Chairman of the AAPI Victory Fund; Vermont State Sen. Kesha Ram; Art Estopinan, Former Chief of Staff to the former Chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee; Kannan Srinivasan, Virginia DNC Biden Delegate and USINPAC Chairman Sanjay Puri.

            The United States of America was upended last week as its entire democratic system was put under siege at the U.S. Capitol Building while Congress was in session. What started as a protest by thousands of Trump supporters quickly turned into violent riots, spurred on by President Donald Trump, and ended in an assault on the Capitol. Panelists discussed these events, what events potentially led up to them, the highly contested election results and steps moving forward.

            “I practically grew up in the United States. Having been doing this for more than 20 years, I can say this is one of the most historically significant times in my life,” said Sanjay Puri. “What we witnessed are scenes that have played out in other countries but have never before been seen here. I am still trying to process what has happened.

“I have spent many years working in the Capitol Building and I have attended at least five State of the Union addresses there,” continued Puri. “I am beyond saddened to see it desecrated the way it was. I am used to walking into that building without fear and now I do not know if that is possible for anyone. To me it does not matter what party you belong to or what beliefs you hold. Our country exists due to democracy, the rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power. We saw all of that destroyed in one day.”

Art Estopinan, former Chief of Staff to the former Chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee offered a different perspective.

“While violence is never acceptable, more than 75 million American citizens are angry. They believe the election was stolen from them; they believe there was electoral fraud and electoral irregularities,” Estopinan said. “We saw it in Georgia, when Democratic operatives cleared a room live on tv and obtained ballots from a suitcase under the table. The American people are upset, there were dead people voting, people registered in two states, people voting a week after the election happened. No one will put up with being sold a bill of goods and a lie. Sen. Cruz wants to hold an electoral commission to find out if the machines counting the vote, were ever compromised. That said, violence is never, ever an acceptable response. I am happy to hear that Mr. Biden wants to unite the country and I take him at his word.”

The issue of culpability for the President’s actions was also discussed during the panel. Shekar Narasimham discussed why Congress is considering impeachment with less than two weeks to go until President-Elect Biden is inaugurated and why there must be consequences following the riots.

“Why would you bother, with eleven days to go, unless you fear something else happening? There has been some concern that more actions may take place in ten or eleven days,” Narasimham said. “The fundamental concern is that even during these eleven days, we have a President who has completely gone off the rails and could do all kinds of things.

“The other question is, should people be held accountable? Is anyone above the rule of law? If I go and make a speech in front of 10,000 very angry people and tell them to ‘march to the state House and make sure those people hear us loud and clear,’ and it gets out of control, what is my culpability? Multiple Republican senators have received death threats…if that is the result of the speech, do I have any responsibility? Can I just wash my hands of it? I think Congress has to impeach the President to show that no one is above the rule of law and anyone who went into the Capitol and destroyed property, carried property away, attacked police officers and made death threats must be prosecuted.”

Virginia DNC Biden Delegate Kannan Srinivasan also contributed on this topic.

“The use of the 25th Amendment is not going to happen. In terms of impeachment, given what transpired, I honestly feel that a loud and clear message must be sent,” said Srinivasan. “This is not about Democrat or Republican, I would say the same thing if a Democrat was involved. We need Congress to do its job. A message must be sent that this will not be tolerated. We cannot comprise the rule of law for our own children’s sake.”

Vermont State Sen. Kesha Ram discussed bipartisan efforts to move forward, how Vermont can serve as an example, and how to reach Americans in rural regions of the country who feel disenfranchised.

“Vermont had the highest vote count for President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris. It was about 69 percent. The only person who had a higher vote total in our state was our Republican governor with 70 percent of the vote,” Ram stated. “Even in a state with an overwhelming blue majority, he led the charge in asking Donald Trump to resign or asking other Republicans to remove him. Our Republican Senate Minority Leader advanced a resolution to ask Donald Trump to leave. We truly believe in our state, that if the rest of the country needs part of our store of liberty and democracy, we’re here to help you replenish it.

“People who feel disenfranchised want to blame other Americans for their problems instead of looking at ways to improve themselves. They feel unheard,” she continued. “The answer isn’t violence that left five people dead, or 365,000 dead and millions infected from this pandemic. I was in government during the Great Recession and the H1N1 outbreak. What leadership looked like at that time was a lack of a crisis and the absence of death and carnage. Leadership worked together with states. It did not matter: red or blue or agreeing with each other or not. We cannot afford another day of Donald Trump in the White House.”

About USINPAC:The US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) is a bipartisan nonprofit organization that leverages the over 4.3 million Indian Americans to bring about outcomes that matter. USINPAC provides support to candidates for federal, state, and local offices, and serves as a resource for federal agencies, lawmakers, and Congressional staff. For more information, please visit

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