Ever since the “Howdy Modi’ event in the US or PM Narendra Modi’s “Abki Baar Trump Sarkar” slogans hit the media headlines, the personal bond between US President Donald Trump and PM Modi has only been on the upcurve. The mutual admiration has often culminated into cooperation between the two countries as was visible in India’s shipping of 50 million hydroxychloroquine tablets to US in Apr-May 2020, the biggest export of the drug to any country, following a request by the POTUS.
An extension to the mutual bonding and cooperation could be seen in India’s magnanimous gesture of releasing of an American pastor who was arrested last October on charges of carrying USD 40,000 of undeclared currency. The release was effected following Donald Trump’s request to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the latter earning a public appreciation from Trump on the release.
Tennessee pastor Bryan Nerren after release by India following Trumps intervention this May, attended a round table with the President in the Oval Office of the White House along with several other American citizens who were released from overseas abductions and detentions.
India responded very well to my request. Appreciate that, Trump said as he appeared in a taped meeting with a group of US citizens who were abducted or detained overseas and the Trump Administration helped them to return home.
The taped round table was broadcast during the first night of the four-day Republican National Convention on Monday.
In his brief remarks, Nerren explained that he had been arrested by the Indian officials while travelling in the country.
Nerren, the American Pastor from the International House of Prayer Ministries was arrested in Bagdogra, West Bengal last October on charges of travelling with USD 40,000 of undeclared currency.
Among others who appeared along with Trump were Michael White, a US Navy veteran who was arrested in July 2018 while visiting his girlfriend in Iran and Sam Goodwin, a world traveller who entered northern Syria from Iraq on May 25, 2019 and was taken into custody for failure to have a visa.
Others who appeared on the video were Andrew Brunson, a pastor, accused of being part of a terrorist group, the Gulen movement, and was arrested on October 7, 2016, by Turkey and Joshua and Tamara Holt, arrested in Venezuela shortly after their wedding and accused of stockpiling weapons.
Each of them briefly recounted their stories and thanked President Trump for his efforts to secure their freedom.
Trump’s intervention to release Pastor Nerren came after Christian leaders from Tennessee and US lawmakers mounted a campaign for his release with both India and his administration.
In February, Rhonda J Nerren wrote a letter to Trump seeking the release of her husband Pastor Nerren. The president is believed to have taken up the issue during his visit to India in February.
Nerren was arrested in October 2019 and charged with violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act for travelling with USD 40,000 of undeclared currency. On October 11, he was released on bail.
On December 31, 2019, Indian Customs issued a show cause order confiscating the USD 40,000 and imposing a penalty of Rs 3 lakh (roughly USD 4,000).
In January, Nerren surrendered the entire amount and paid the fine.
On May 15, 2020, after months of diplomatic efforts, Nerren was released and allowed to return home.
(With PTI Inputs)