NSW Police thwarts simmering tension in Sydney over India’s farmers’ protests

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 16 February 2021: The months-old farmers’ agitation in India over the new and contentious farm laws, has raised its head in Sydney, where Indian diaspora groups are at loggerheads with polarised views supporting and opposing the farm laws. Rallies by different groups with respective viewpoints have been held in Sydney and other Australian cities in recent months.

Simmering tensions within the Indian diaspora came to an ugly conclusion on 14 February 2021 when a ‘Tiranga Rally’ with many cars, some with religious slogan stickers, moving allegedly in the direction of the Sikh temple in Glenwood was diverted by the NSW Riot Squad a few kilometers away at the Sunny Holt Road, a report in the Indian Subcontinent Times (IST), Sydney says.

In a media release on 15 February 2021 the ‘Australian Sikh Association’ based in Glenwood, NSW “lauded the prompt police action in preventing any untoward incident. Yesterday, on 14 February 2021, the vigilant action of the NSW Police foiled an attempt of some miscreants to provoke/disrupt the Sunday services attended by numerous worshippers. We were informed that police officers, accompanied by the riot squad helped stop a large convoy of vehicles heading towards the Gurdwara and took control of the roads leading to the sacred premises. It is alleged that mobsters were proceeding towards Glenwood after a protest rally in Parramatta with the Indian national flag and shouting religious slogans.” (as reported in the IST report)

SEE Australian Sikh Association media release below:

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A report by SBS Punjabi quotes an NSW police spokesperson telling that the organizers of a religious ceremony at Jones Park in Mays Hill had not submitted a Form 1 ‘Notice of Intention to Hold a Public Assembly’ within the seven-day timeframe.

“Cumberland Police Area Command allowed the gathering and motor vehicle procession to proceed, provided they comply with current COVID-19 requirements,” the police spokesperson said.

“There were approximately 300-400 people near the Sikh Temple at Glenwood and there were sufficient police resources in place if there was any breach of the peace,” the spokesperson said.

Mr. Prakash Mehta, President of the Hindu Council of Australia, condemned the actions of the car rally organizers saying “It is unimaginable that a Hindu group would do anything to disrupt the sanctity of any religious place. There has been a strong brotherhood between Hindus and Sikhs; we in Australia have marked Guru Nanak’s milestone birth anniversary recently. We condemn the recent incident if it is true that they set out to disrespect the Gurdwara. It is up to the Police now, and no one should take the law in their own hands.” (Indian Link, February 16, 2021)

The report adds: “NSW Police confirmed that no arrests have been made, police did not search for weapons, and the car rally made its way back to Harris Park. The police command centers in Blacktown, Quakers Hill, Cumberland, and Parramatta continue to assess the situation.”

In response to an email about the incident from SAT, Adam Hawse, Media Liaison Officer, NSW Police Media Unit, Public Affairs Branch says, “NSW Police have commenced an investigation through Strike Force Puma. Inquiries continue.”

The Strike Force Puma was formed in 2018 to target drivers with a history of license offenses and a repeated history of drink and drug driving offenses, and drivers with extreme and erratic behaviors.

The incidents in Sydney seem to be dividing the community as the issue of farmers’ stir has been viral on social media. It is not clear who were the organizers of the ‘Tiranga Rally’and no one has claimed any responsibility for the same. Community members have been taking differing positions and at times religious connotations arise. People who talked to us do not want to be named but feel concerned about divisions based on religion. The NSW police are being commended for their alertness and actions averting a possible ugly situation.

(The news analysis will be updated as & when new facts are known)

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