Friday, April 16, 2021

Big Indians No Chief

There are two important lessons from the local community tensions of the past few days: stop the internationalisation of India’s domestic politics, and resolve community issues using internal mechanisms. 

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Over the past few weeks, tensions have emerged within some sections of Sydney’s Indian community after a car rally with overtly religious overtures found its way in the streets of Blacktown, which caused concern in the local Sikh community.

With the local Indian community unable to deescalate the situation, a meeting was held at Multicultural NSW in Sydney between its officials and community representatives.

In attendance were Chair of Multicultural NSW Dr GK Harinath, CEO Joseph La Posta, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell and a number of ambassadors from Indian community organisations.

The overarching message from this meeting was that the Indian community must resolve its contentious issues internally rather than reaching out to Multicultural NSW to mediate in these situations.

A similar meeting had been held not so long ago when a brawl had broken out on the streets of Harris Park. Some of the attendees then had expressed a similar sentiment about resolving disputes at an internal level rather than involving Multicultural NSW.

The past few days have seen tensions simmering below the surface when a car rally was stopped by police.

Police told Indian Link, “On Sunday afternoon we became aware that a car rally was making its way towards the Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple at Glenwood. Police are currently aware of tensions between the Sikh and Hindu communities and felt that any car rally would result in the potential for a breach of the peace. The rally which consisted of approximately 50 cars was stopped by police and the participants told to return to Harris Park.  Police did not search for weapons and no arrests were made.”

Yogesh Khattar, organiser of the rally told Indian Link after our article was published, “The claim in the article that the rally was headed towards Glenwood Gurdwara is totally false and slanderous. The rally was never headed to the Gurdwara. Just to clarify, the rally was originally supposed to go to Doonside Road via Great Western Highway followed by Knox Road, Quakers Hill Parkway and then to Old Windsor Road and James Ruse Drive towards Parramatta. The rally was stopped in Doonside because of a major accident on Knox Road and was directed by NSW Police to proceed via Reservoir Road, Third Avenue into Sunnyholt Road, followed by Old Windsor Road. The rally was again stopped after crossing Sackville Rd intersection in Blacktown. Police informed us that there was some disturbance “in the nearby area” hence this convoy would not be allowed to go further. We were directed to go back to Parramatta via M4.”

While there are differences regarding the nature and route of the rally, the videos of the rally circulated on community social media showed religious chants of Jai Shri Ram as well as more nationalistic and seemingly exclusionary sloganeering.

farmers not terrorists, farmers sydney protest blacktown sikh community
Sydney’s Sikh community gathered in Blacktown in solidarity with Indian farmers

The local Sikh community also has organized support for the farmers’ protest in India. Many of their members here hail from farming backgrounds.

The call is finally going out for the recent internationalisation of Indian domestic politics to be stopped, and for the Indian community here to rise up to its own challenges and deal with them with internal mechanisms.

Harris Park is becoming a potential flashpoint for these activities. Only last Saturday,  groups of people walking around randomly, chanting religious slogans as diners were out and about, could easily have been seen as disturbing the peace. It does not bode well for a district that has all the potential for becoming a thriving cultural precinct in the multicultural city of Sydney.

READ ALSO: The involved NRI

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Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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