Sandeep Dikshit Tribune News Service New Delhi, September 2
A court in Australia sentenced ‘Tiranga Warrior’ Vishal Jood, a youth from Haryana living on an expired visa, to a prison term for attacking Sikhs in a series of violent assaults in Sydney.
Jood’s release has been sought by Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar, BJP leader Kapil Mishra, Olympian Yogeshwar Dutt and Delhi BJP spokesperson Tejinder Bagga.
There is also a social media campaign claiming that Jood was actually a ‘Tiranga Warrior’ who was trying to protect the Indian flag from being dishonoured by ‘Khalistanis’.
Jood, in jail since April, was on Thursday sentenced by Magistrate K Thompson in a Parramatta Court, said Vivek Asri of NRI Affairs, Australia, who has been tracking the case.
The sentence carries six months of parole. As Jood has already spent 4 months and 17 days in jail, he could become eligible for parole on 15 October. However, his expired visa clouds the prospects of his early release as it is likely that he will be sent to a detention centre awaiting deportation.
In a plea bargaining process, Jood pleaded guilty to three main charges. These included assault’, ‘occasioning actual bodily harm in company of others’ and ‘armed with intention to commit indictable offence’. The other charges were dropped by the prosecution.
Jood’s lawyer, Asri, told the court that the Haryana youth comes from a place where Hindus and Sikhs co-exist ‘in peace’ and argued that his action was spontaneous and out of fear. There was no evidence that it was motivated because of the victim’s Sikh faith, he pleaded.
The magistrate noted that it was “one of the burdens of living in the society to not to succumb to provocation”.
He said that the urge to pick up an object and strike someone, especially when they are down on the ground, must be resisted. Such behaviour cannot be condoned, Magistrate Thompson added, reported NRI Affairs.
Jood was arrested on 16 April and charged 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.
He had last appeared before the court on August 12 when the court had set new hearing dates in January 2022.