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Joining the chorus: Australian media’s support for Khalistani extremism

Joining the chorus: Australian media’s support for Khalistani extremism

| @indiablooms | 20 Jun 2024, 01:21 am

Australia, known for its multicultural fabric and inclusivity, is home to one of the fastest-growing Indian diasporas in the world.

Indians are the second-largest immigrant group in the country, contributing significantly to its socio-economic landscape.

Yet, a growing sense of anxiety and concern is taking root among this vibrant community, fueled by recent trends in public discourse and media reportage.

The Indian community, of which Sikhs are an integral and significant part, is increasingly alarmed by what they perceive as a “pro-Khalistan bias” in the coverage by state broadcasters such as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). Influential Indian Australians from Melbourne and Sydney assert that ABC tends to amplify the voices of a handful of self-serving Khalistan extremists, while disregarding the concerns of the diaspora.

One community member pointed out, “The ABC talks about the events in Canada but conveniently forgets every time to question pro-Khalistan ‘hooliganism’ here in Australia.” This sentiment reflects a broader frustration that the Australian media is not holding pro-Khalistan elements accountable for their actions within the country.

A case in point is the violence at Melbourne’s Federation Square in January 2023, where pro-Khalistan extremists, during a so-called referendum, attacked individuals carrying Indian flags. Despite the severity of the incident, there has been little movement towards fixing accountability or delivering justice. Additionally, attacks on Indian temples by pro-Khalistan radicals have not been taken seriously by Australian authorities, despite assurances from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last May. The question remains: is the safety and security of law-abiding Australian-Indians being overshadowed by the interests of Khalistan separatists?

The community’s apprehensions were further intensified by the recent ABC report titled ‘Infiltrating Australia’, which alleges that Indian intelligence officers, posing as diplomats, were expelled for running covert operations targeting Sikh separatists in Australia. The report includes interviews with individuals linked to designated Canadian terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was killed in Vancouver last year. The documentary goes on to accuse the Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP), a support group of India’s ruling party, of attempting to infiltrate Australian politics through connections with the Liberal Party.

Such narratives, community members argue, singularly focus on discrediting India’s global ascent, while ignoring the broader context and complexity of South Asian politics.

This perceived bias is not just a media issue but also a political one. Greens Senator David Shoebridge, quoted extensively in the ABC report, has been a controversial figure in the Indian community, particularly after he received an award from the Pakistani President for his contributions to human rights. Shoebridge’s past remarks comparing Indian groups to Nazis have only deepened the mistrust towards his and ABC’s intentions.

The issue of Khalistan is a deeply sensitive one for India, impacting its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Yet, Australia’s alignment with Canada and the US on this matter, despite a burgeoning partnership with India under the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) and a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), raises questions. The economic ties, underscored by the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) signed in 2022, further complicate the diplomatic landscape.

The Indian diaspora in Australia deserves fair and balanced reportage that acknowledges their contributions and concerns. Media entities like the ABC and SBS must strive to present nuanced perspectives rather than echoing one-sided narratives. The growing Sikh community in Australia is not just a statistic; it is a vital part of the nation’s multicultural identity and deserves to be heard and respected.

(Photo and text courtesy: Khalsavox.com)

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