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Australian court sends Haryana’s Vishal Jood to 1-year in jail for attack on Sikhs in Sydney

The Print logo The Print 03-09-2021 Tenzin Zompa
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New Delhi: A court in Australia Thursday sentenced Haryana youth Vishal Jood to 12 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to three charges, including committing assaults on members of the Sikh community in Sydney in September last year.

Jood, who was a student in Australia, has been in jail since 16 April, and will become eligible for parole on 15 October after he completes six months non-parole period sentence, according to a report in the website NRI affairs.

However, having stayed in Australia on an expired visa might land him in a detention centre soon.

Hailing from Haryana’s Karnal district, Jood’s release was sought by many, including Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, BJP leader Kapil Mishra, BJP Youth wing national secretary Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga and Olympian Neeraj Chopra.

Jood was arrested on 16 April after the New South Wales police charged him with three counts of affray, three counts of armed with intent to commit indictable offence, two counts of destroying or damaging property, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm in the company of others.

However, following a plea bargain agreement, Jood confessed to three minor charges, which included “assault”, “occasioning actual bodily harm in company of others” and “armed with intention to commit an indictable offence”.

India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi Thursday said, “We have been asked about this in the past also. What we know at the moment is that today, on 2 September, an Australian court heard the matter and passed a judgment on him. We are ascertaining the details. Our consulate and high commission are on it for a long time. And, we were given the consular access too”.

Several social media users in Indian also started an online campaign #JusticeForVishalJood on Twitter in June, demanding his release. However, the 24-year-old was denied bail last month.

Please help him @DrSJaishankar

ji @VMBJP Ji @meaMADAD @HCICanberra @cgisydney#JusticeForVishalJood pic.twitter.com/dT7868KaVX

— Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga (@TajinderBagga) June 15, 2021

Vishal Jood stood up for India

Vishal Jood stood up for Tiranga

He need justice

Pls ensure Consular access for Vishal Jood

Pls help @AusHCIndia 🙏@MEAIndia @HCICanberra@cgimelbourne#JusticeForVishalJood pic.twitter.com/v0gt9jkwxC

— Kapil Mishra (@KapilMishra_IND) June 15, 2021

हरियाणा के Vishal Jood भाई के साथ Australia में हुए घटने के बारे में सुनकर दुख हुआ। आशा है कि Vishal और परिवार वालो को जल्द ही इंसाफ मिल पाए 🙏🏽#JusticeForVishalJood pic.twitter.com/I8k7u5TztI

— Neeraj Chopra (@Neeraj_chopra1) June 16, 2021

How it all began

On 26 January, several members of the Sikh community staged a protest against the Indian government’s farm laws at Sydney’s Harris Park.

According to a report in The Daily Guardian, Jood, with a few other students, opposed the “Khalistani group raising slogans against PM Modi and India” and started shouting “Modi zindabad” and “Hindustan zindabad” slogans. On the same evening, Jood led a “Tiranga car rally” where he hurled the Indian national flag and later also burnt the Khalistani flag.

Following this, clashes broke out between youths from Haryana and members of the Sikh community at Harris Park in Sydney in March and April this year.

Rejecting any claims of Jood being falsely implicated in the crime, a report in NRI affairs explained that Jood was not arrested by the police for holding the flag rally or what many called being a ‘Tiranga Warrior’ and for “opposing anti-India elements for the Tricolour’s sake”, but for several other violent attacks in which his involvement was suspected.

The first such incident the police cited was on 16 September 2020, when five men attacked a Sikh youth on Brisbane street. The group hit the victim multiple times on the head with a baseball bat.

On the evening of 14 February this year, a young Sikh man who was driving a black 2015 Range Rover along Marion Street was beaten with a rod by five men who were armed with hockey sticks and other weapons.

Later on 28 February, a group of 10 men attacked a car with four Sikh youths inside, who had participated in farm laws protests. The four men managed to escape but the attackers damaged the car.

Jood’s involvement is suspected in all these cases.

(Edited by Neha Mahajan)

Also read: Sikh separatism fighting existential battle but mishandling farmer protest can add fuel

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