Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Australian daily reminds authorities how Modi, a hardliner, became an international pariah after Gujarat riots

By Our Representative
In a surprise move, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi left Australia, November 18, the country’s oldest and well-reputed daily, “The Sydney Morning Herald”, decided to analyse what it has called “the dark shadows behind the power of Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping”. In a commentary citing protests which rocked Australian streets in the wake of their visit for G-20 summit, Matt Wade and John Garnaut write in the daily, “The adulation afforded to Modi in Australia reflects a stunning turnaround”, adding, “In 2002, when Mr Modi was chief minister of India's Gujarat state, deadly riots cast a dark shadow over his reputation.”
Especially taking strong exception to the way in Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping were “feted in the halls of Australian power”, the paper says, the placards against Modi that lined the streets they travelled told very “different story.” It recalls, “More than a 1000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the pogrom which lasted several days. Modi has been accused of doing little to stop the bloodshed although he denies the allegations and none of them have ever been proven. He became an international pariah after the riots - the US denied him visas for many years and Britain cut off all ties with him.”
The daily further says, “Modi has gradually been reintegrated into India's political mainstream and the landslide election victory for the BJP suggests millions of Indians are willing to overlook his political baggage.” It adds, “And Modi's links with hardline Hindu groups, especially the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, continue to worry many from religious minorities in India.”
Anti-Modi protests in Sydney
“There was a clear reminder of this when about 300 members of Sydney's Sikh community staged a protest outside Allphones Arena where Modi spoke”, the paper says, quoting Karandeep Singh Chadha, a spokesman for the protestors, who said that many people from religious minorities in India “do not feel safe and that groups associated with Modi have an agenda to make India a Hindu nation by wiping out other religions.” He adds, "People of the Sikh faith and other minorities are waiting to live freely and peacefully, without their religion being suppressed," he said.
As for President Xi, the paper says, “Position as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party means he has been in charge of the deepest and most unrelenting civil society crackdown in decades. Xi's two-year tenure has coincided with hundreds of deaths in Xinjiang province, involving both terrorist attacks and police reprisals, dozens of self-immolations in Tibet and an unprecedented rebellion of students in Hong Kong.”
The paper further says, Xi’s security forces “have jailed and intimidated dozens of prominent lawyers, journalists and online commentators who were previously left alone, while the space for debate has been signifcantly constricted.” It adds, “Xi's crackdowns are ongoing, as suggested by the gruesome stories and striking placards of some of the Tibetan and Falun Gong protestors who have been shadowing his movements.”

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