Vishal Jood was arrested for his role in a string of assaults in Sydney, that targeted Sikhs. Hashtags such as #JusticeForVishalJood are nothing more than poor attempts at rewriting narratives : Sukhmeet Grewal
If you’re an avid user of social media, especially within Indian circles, the name Vishal Jood may have caught your eye recently. A Haryanvi man, who, according to The Daily Guardian, is seemingly being held in adverse conditions, without cause and having his human rights violated upon, all in a Sydney Jail. If the article is to be believed, there should be international outrage.
However, it must be said that the claims put forth by The Daily Guardian, and parroted by thousands of pro-BJP elements, are simply false. Not only is The Daily Guardian a propaganda producing, pro-Modi piece of drivel, but NSW police have levelled a number of charges against Jood.
NSW police, via statement, advise that Jood has been charged with “3 counts of affray, 3 counts of being armed with an intent to commit an indictable offence, 2 counts of property damage and 1 count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm”.
Furthermore, evidence of any human rights being violated is also non existent as are claims that Jood has been assaulted while in custody. In fact, the claims made by these pro-BJP elements read more like lift outs from the work of Tolkien, intriguing but pure fantasy.
One of their own has been caught and charged, and rather than use just an ounce of critical thinking skills to understand the situation, these “Sanghis” have jumped to formulate a narrative of oppression.
But, for minorities and political/social activists within India, the claims made, may elicit a sense of familiarity. While the claims of abuse of power in jails, false charges and human rights violations are unfounded within Jood’s case in Australia, they are a reality within the Indian context. Activists like Disha Ravi and Deep Sidhu, can attest to this fact.
Ravi, a climate activist, was arrested on sedition charges for advocating for the farmers, and spent time in the infamous Tihar jail, where “[her] autonomy was violated”. Sidhu, an actor-turned-political activist was charged for his alleged role in the 26th of January farmers rally that reached the Red Fort. Delhi Police alleged Sidhu played an integral role in the rally, yet, evidence points to the contrary, Sidhu was only a passive participant. His only crime was being high profile enough for the police to target him.
Delving deeper into the narratives being spun, it is claimed that Jood was not inciting violence, as he has been charged for, but rather, he was “heroically defending India” and the “Tiranga”, the Indian flag. A claim as flawed as the paper that ran it. Jood attacked Sikh activists in Sydney, not because of any alleged anti-national sentiment, but for the support they’ve shown for the protesting farmers in Delhi. However, for those whose allegiances lie with Modi more than the nation, the support for farmers is often conflated with opposition to India.
In fact, this anti-national labelling is a heavily relied upon tactic often employed by pro-modi elements, namely the RSS, a terrorist hindu-nationalist organisation that Jood is seemingly a big supporter of.
Post made by Jood on his Facebook Account
Nonetheless, this white washing of Jood’s actions as one of a “national hero” that have occurred since his arrest can not and should not be dismissed. In truth, such a process is a common occurrence within the BJP playbook. Individuals who commit violent crimes against perceived anti-nationals are protected and celebrated, and if these crimes victimise minorities, then the rewards are greater. One look at Narendra Modi would prove this to be true. The architect of the 2002 Gujarat Riots, in which hundreds of Muslims were massacred, rather than be prosecuted for his crimes, was rewarded with the Prime Ministership.
In Jood’s case, since the news of his arrest has broken, solidarity rallies have been organised in his home state of Haryana calling for his release. The narratives being spun of his innocence have successfully made their way into the mainstream opinion of those in India and campaigns have started advocating for his release. One may not be surprised if he finds himself on a BJP ticket sometime in the near future either.
Jood is charged for a string of assaults and property damage that targeted Sikhs. He is not the innocent man that many across India believe him to be, he seemingly acted not out of love for his country, but rather, out of hatred for minorities. A trait commonly seen amongst those who support the current BJP government.
But perhaps, the characteristic that is a universal identifier amongst the “Sanghi’s” is their blatant hypocrisy.
Back in February of this year, celebrities the world over, the likes of Rihanna and Greta Thunberg, took notice of the farmers protest and tweeted their support. In response, the Indian Government propaganda machine kicked into overdrive. Puppets of the government, including Bollywood actors and Sports stars, urged the public to not allow foreign influence to disrupt domestic matters.
Yet, when the tables are turned and it is a Modi supporting Indian national caught up in a foreign matter, these same puppets come out in droves.
Screengrab of tweets supporting Vishal Jood.
Gaurav Goel, a Statesspokeperson for the BJP, Arun yadav, the social media head for Haryana’s BJP division, among others, quickly put the call out, asking for #JusticeForVishalJood.
Little do they know, justice is being served currently. The only thing is, Vishal Jood is no longer in India where your support for Modi can wash away your sins and provide immunity.
Sukhmeet Grewal is a current post-graduate student with a passion for political/social advocacy.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial views or position of NRI Affairs.