“We’re here today to not only show solidarity with those farmers in India and the communities in India that are standing up against an increasingly right-wing, intolerant Modi government, but we’re also standing here today to show solidarity with the diaspora in Sydney,” stated New South Wales (NSW) State Senator David Shoebridge on February 28th 2021.
Shoebridge was speaking outside the Indian Consulate in Sydney at a press conference called by the Australian Alliance Against Hate and Violence to raise awareness about the rising threat to the country’s social cohesion posed by far-right Hindu extremism. “There have already been too many incidents of far-right extremist violence, particularly against the Sikh community in western Sydney,” he warned.
The press conference came after tensions flared in the diaspora on February 14th 2021 when a large convoy of cars driven by supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attempted to intimidate local Sikhs by driving to a Sydney Gurdwara during Sunday services.
In one video of the convoy shared on social media, the participants were described as supporters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) paramilitary and its political wing, India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Although the convoy was halted by police before reaching the Gurdwara, it was but one of several recent incidents in Australia marking the growing divide between supporters and critics of Modi. Sikhs have become a primary target as they have emerged as the face of ongoing protests in India against controversial new farm laws passed by Modi’s regime.
Shoebridge — who has long been a bold critic of the Chinese Communist Party — has recently also emerged as a persistent voice warning that India may be “lurching towards becoming a fascist state.” In July 2020, he declared, “It’s time to be frank about the right-wing sectarian violence that is being directed by India’s own government.” In August 2020, as he moved a motion in the NSW Senate against India’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, he warned that “protests and dissent have been met with an authoritarian government response and civil liberties have been dramatically curtailed.” In December