Op-ed: I was shocked to see how for short-term political gains Greens MLC in New South Wales Parliament, David Shoebridge vilified the entire Hindu community who now live with fear and disgust even while walking on suburban streets.
To David Shoebridge, I say you have brought the undercurrents of Hinduphobia and Hindu hatred to the forefront in Australian society.
Just like the 17,000 Indian community members who attended Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi’s reception in Sydney, and many more across Australia, I am a firm believer in the democratically elected Modi government. I have been a volunteer to campaign for Narendra Modi and am proud of the fact that today this government has truly thought of ‘the world as one family’. Modi government has donated COVID vaccines to more than 50 countries, directly or indirectly. I know that despite misleading assertions and false criticism, it will continue to donate as well as carry out vaccine drive for the whole of India.
This may surprise you that many of my close friends and the local community members who belong to different religious groups do not agree with the government and have often showcased opposing views. However, that does not impact our relationship in Australia. This difference of opinion and frank debate amongst us only strengthens our relationship that is based on mutual respect for each other’s varied perspectives on politics and life.
This is not just my story, it is of the entire Indian community. We all are proud of coming from a vibrant democracy and live by the values that it has instilled inside us.
Even when the recent farm law debate was going on, there was a desecration of the Indian Flag. Some community members in Melbourne planned to do a rally in support of the Indian flag. These proud Indian-Australian community members received threats from a banned terrorist organisation from overseas. People from the opposite side of the debate forgot their differences and sided with the Indian community to encourage them to complain to the Australian Federal Police like a law-abiding citizen.
They know what damage a banned organisation such as Babbar Khalsa can do. A banned terrorist organisation that had even today instilled fear in the minds of the people of India. An organisation that bombed an Air India flight in Canada that took the lives of innocent men, women, and children. An organisation that killed a sitting Prime Minister. Uniting to condemn such violent terrorist threats even while disagreeing with the current government is the real character and strength of the Indian community we live in. It is hard to believe but knowing/unknowingly you have provided propaganda cover to some terrorist sympathisers on the democratic soil of Australia.
I was dismayed but not surprised to learn about how shrewd you are on the understanding of India when you said that you have not heard of any political killings other than right-wing extremists (A lie of the first degree!).
Let me update you with some facts, last month a 25-year-old man was killed by some ‘religious extremists’ because he was a Hindu. In fact, no month passes by when there is no violent attack on BJP or RSS volunteers in Kerala by the Communist Party of India. This is, just to remind you, the same political and ideological outfit whose members you and Greens are partner within Australia.
In India, the most horrifying killings by far-left communist goons have been in Bengal and Kerala. This is the reason why the people of India have almost uprooted the existence of communist ideology.
To vilify and blame a peaceful community with the lowest crime rates and high economic and social contribution in Australia, while an investigation is still going on is not just irresponsible but also highly damaging. The approach of the Indian community has been much more mature where it has tried to ease the tension between two groups of community youth that are going on since August. May I remind you that these confrontations have been going on much before the “Indian Farm Laws’ were passed.
In the process, you have also tarnished the hard work of a Hindu organisation that has worked for over 30 years and contributed positively to the Australian community.
In fact, while you were putting dirt on them in the form of baseless allegations, their volunteers were participating in Clean-up Australia day. Senator Janet Rice from your own party who on a lot of occasions does not miss a chance bashing India attended and praised the International Yoga Day celebrations.
The Senator also heaped praises on the organisers for the satisfaction she felt doing Yoga. All such events have been supported by the same Hindu organisation whose credentials you are questioning without any scrutiny of facts.
If next time, in Australia, sadly a Hindu girl or boy is discriminated against because of her nose ring or bindi or attire and shouted out to go back to their country, it might be because of such gross and baseless allegations leveled against a whole community.
May I point out to you that the spirit of the Indian community is strong and we will recover from this phase as well – together! However, the harm that you have caused to the Indian community at the time when we needed support and guidance as our elected representative will never be forgotten.
Author – Jay Shah is the President of OFBJP Australia, a group of sympathisers and supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bhartiya Janata Party. He aspires to see a mutual friendship between Australia and India in diverse fields.
Note:The views expressed here are solely the author’s personal opinion and not of ‘The Australia Today’.