The case of Vishal Jood: Accused of anti-Sikh violence in Australia , becomes a hero in India
Dr. Narjeet Kaur
International student Vishal Jood, 24, a convicted criminal , deported from Australia was lionised on his return to India. Jood , who was arrested in Sydney in April this year for his apparent involvement in a series of targeted attacks on the Sikh community, was rendered a hero’s welcome on his return to Haryana, on Sunday. He was greeted by a roadshow and politicians calling him a patriot. A fleet of cars drove through the streets of the city of Karnal in celebration, while a swathed Jood appeared waving the Indian flag and smiling.
It all started with a farmers rally at Quakers Hill in Sydney in December 2020, when a group of Sikh men were peacefully demonstrating in support of the farmers protest in India. Vishal Jood’s defence is that he took it upon himself to stand up to these protests. That ground rests upon the conjecture, widely endorsed by Hindu right-wing groups that are partial to the BJP’s policies, that protesting against the Indian Government is somehow anti-India. This is strikingly false; and even if Vishal Jood believed in what he was doing , it was not his encumbrance to rise up and stand up for the Modi government. The protests , as projected by Vishal Jood, were some kind of dog-whistle to imply that they were patriots and by extrapolation people who were protesting in support of the farmers were anti-nationals.
If the Sikh protesters broke any laws in the countries where their protests occurred then that is a matter for the local police, not for anybody to take laws in their hands.
Peaceful protest is never a matter for violent vigilante policing by self-appointed patriots. That he was idolized and turned into some kind of a nationalistic hero on his return home from persecution in a foreign country is typical of Hindu right-wing communal politics in India since the BJP’s rise to power in 2014. Nothing new for the ever so habitual observers of the India of Prime Minister Modi and his ministers.
Peaceful protest is never a matter for violent vigilante policing by self-appointed patriots.
Vishal Jood is no exultant hero who returned to his homeland to be illustrious like an achiever.. He was put on a flight home as soon as he had served his time in the jail of a foreign country which regards India as a good friend. His welcome in India as a patriot who was prejudicially treated contradicts the buoyancy of the Australian magistrate that Jood had “good prospects for rehabilitation”.
If anything Vishal Jood’s prospects for prompt advancement in right-wing nationalist politics is perky indeed.
Australia’s Immigration and Citizenship Minister Alex Hawke, in a tweet on Jood’s return to India, said, “attempts to undermine Australia’s social cohesion will not be tolerated”.
A news item by IndiaLink NEWS, shared by Mr. Hawke on his Twitter handle, quoted him saying that he was pleased “that this unfortunate event has seen our resilient local Hindu and Sikh communities unite. In particular I want to thank community leaders who have worked hard to support their communities in the face of these unfortunate events”
Ravinder Singh, CEO of NGO Khalsa Aid, took offence to the welcome extended to him and termed the welcome for Jood a "huge insult to all Sikhs". He tweeted on Monday, “This is #VishalJood ! He attacked Sikhs in #Australia ! He was charged and deported to India. He received a hero's welcome in India! It seems that those who attack Sikhs become heroes! This is a huge insult to all Sikhs & the justice system! Absolute disgrace.”
Columnist Ashok Swain tweeted "This #VishalJood was arrested & then deported by Australian authorities to India for his hate attacks against Sikhs in Sydney. Australia’s Immigration Minister says Jood was undermining Australia’ social cohesion. But, he gets a hero’s welcome in India!"
Jood’s return to Haryana ; his welcome as a hero; and his case ; remains a chilling reminder of how Hindu Nationalist hysteria has disfigured a post-truth India.