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Whitewashing Khalistanis, propaganda against Ram Mandir, lies about CAA: Meet Avani Dias, anti-India ‘journalist’ whose visa extension was temporarily denied by Modi govt

In March, the Australian Hindu Media lambasted Avani Dias for attempting to give a clean chit to Khalistanis and insinuating the role of Hindus in the vandalism of the Shree Laxmi Narayan Temple in Brisbane.

On Tuesday (23rd April), the South Asia Bureau Chief of the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) News, Avani Dias, took to X (formerly Twitter) to claim that she had to leave India abruptly due to the non-extension of her visa by the Modi government.

The controversial ‘journalist’ also alleged that the Indian government had plans to not allow her accreditation to cover the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Dias claimed that her visa was extended for a period of 2 months at the last minute, following which she went back to Australia.

She lamented returning to her home country just a day before the first phase of the elections. “Last week, I had to leave India abruptly. The Modi Government told me my visa extension would be denied, saying my reporting “crossed a line”. After Australian Government intervention, I got a mere two-month extension…less than 24 hours before my flight,” her tweet read.

Avani Dias further brazened out, “We were also told my election accreditation would not come through because of an Indian Ministry directive. We left on day one of voting in the national election in what Modi calls “the mother of democracy”.”

Thereafter, her employer ABC News published a controversial article (archive) claiming that Dias received a phone call from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and was notified about the denial of her visa extension.

The publication said that MEA informed the ‘journalist’ that she crossed a line with her propaganda-laden YouTube video, which suggested that India was somehow involved in the assassination of Canada-based Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The 29-minute-long video was deliberately titled ‘Sikhs, Spies and Murder: Investigating India’s alleged hit on foreign soil’ to tarnish the image of India on a global scale and present the nation as a facilitator of extra-territorial killings in foreign countries.

Screengrab of the news report by ABC News

Interestingly, a similar attempt was recently made by the British newspaper The Guardian to falsely implicate India in the assassination of Islamic terrorists by ‘unknown gunmen’ on Pakistani soil.

Nonetheless, the Modi government directed YouTube to withhold the anti-India propaganda video by ABC News and its South Asia Bureau Chief Avani Dias. “This content is currently unavailable in this country because of an order from the government related to national security or public order,” reads a message on the YouTube link of the video

Avani Dias was under the false impression that a red carpet would be laid out for her by the Indian government for attempting to sour the diplomatic relations of the nation with its allies and partner countries.

Screengrab of the anti-India YouTube video of ABC News

“It felt too difficult to do my job in India. I was struggling to get into public events run by Modi’s party, the government wouldn’t even give me the passes I need to cover the election and the ministry left it all so late, that we were already packed up and ready to go…”It’s by design. The Narendra Modi government has made me feel so uncomfortable that we decided to leave,” she was quoted as saying by ABC News.

“There’s always a feeling of unease that this sort of backlash could come your way as a journalist in India…I’ve felt it the whole time I’ve been here. So have my colleagues from different publications,” Dias continued.

The controversial ‘journalist’ was also seen playing the victim card on X (formerly Twitter) and casting aspersions on the state of Indian democracy under the Narendra Modi regime.

While seizing the opportunity, leftist propagandist portal Newslaundry rehashed its interactive session with Avani Dias about the ‘challenges’ faced by foreign correspondents in India.

Controversies of Avani Dias

In March this year, the Australian Hindu Media lambasted the South Asia Bureau Chief of ABC News for attempting to give a clean chit to Khalistani extremists and insinuating the role of Hindus in the vandalism of the Shree Laxmi Narayan Temple in Brisbane.

In a Facebook post, the organisation noted, “ABC News’s brown sepoys Avani Dias & Naomi Selvaratnam write a propaganda piece whitewashing terror-tainted Khalistan movement. Not a single Hindu or Indian government source is quoted in this biased copy paste story. RTI shows Khalistanis were suspects; no evidence of Hindu hand in police investigations.”

Earlier in January, the South Asia Bureau Chief of ABC News attempted to portray the Pran Prathistha ceremony of Ram Mandir as a ‘Hindu supremacist’ event. Avani Dias conveniently skipped the history of Ram Mandir and its destruction by Islamic invader Babur in 1526.

“There was a mosque there, the Babri Majid Mosque. It was built in the 16th century. And in 1992, Hindu right-wing mobs stormed this town and they climbed over the brick walls of the mosque and they demolished it with their bare hands, with axes, with hammers. It was a really dark period in India’s history and that led to nationwide riots,” she was heard saying.

2,000 people died or even more than that. Most of those people were Muslims. So this has been a really divisive part of India’s history because since that point there have been legal battles about who should own the site, what should be built there, should a mosque be rebuilt? And ultimately the highest court in India determined that a Hindu temple in dedication to the god of Ram, who some Hindus, like Mr Modi, believe was born here, should be built,” Dias continued.

The controversial ‘journalist’ also claimed that the re-construction of the Ram Mandir is somehow a part of the Hindu supremacist agenda, aimed at undermining the ‘secular ethos’ of this nation.

And so it really marks this Hindu nationalist agenda, this agenda that Mr Modi and his party have been pushing, that this is a Hindu supreme state, not one which is secular, which is what India’s constitution says. And there are hundreds of millions of Muslims that live in this country, tens of millions of others who follow other religions as well, who feel sidelined by those policies. Speaking to Muslims here in the town of Ayodhya, they’ve told us that they’re hiding out and they’ve told us they’re actually worried about what will happen in the coming days, in the coming weeks when Mr Modi and his 12,000 security forces leave,” Dias brazened out.

In March 2022, she wrote a contentious article (archive) targeting Yogi Adityanath during the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha elections. She had labelled the BJP leader a ‘Hindu supremacist monk’ for opposing the wearing of religious attire in government schools.

Screengrab of the article by Avani Dias

He’s also built a youth group aimed at getting revenge on “historic wrongs” by Muslim rulers…Researchers have said his political rise represents a worrying trend of a new and assertive brand of Hindu nationalism leading to Muslim persecution in the world’s largest democracy,” Avani Dias attempted to create mass hysteria.

She also cried foul over the implementation of law (Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021), aimed at curbing forced religious conversion in the State of Uttar Pradesh. “In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has introduced harsher penalties for people who kill the holy cow and longer jail terms for Muslim men accused of converting Hindu women to Islam,” her article read.

Besides Yogi Adityanath, the South Asia Bureau Chief of ABC News also attempted to demonise Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government at the Centre.

Screengrab of the tweet by Avani Dias

In April 2022, OpIndia reported how Avani Dias had spread disinformation about the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – a humanitarian law that aims to fast-track the citizenship process of persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who have been illegally staying in India on or before 31st December 2014.

“Will Smith has been seen for the first time since The Slap and he’s in India. Reports he’s seeing Sadhguru, a spiritual leader who runs an ashram and once called a Muslim student ‘Talibani’ The guru also supports a law which doesn’t offer Muslim refugees citizenship in India,” she had claimed in a tweet.

When journalist Aditya Raj Kaul pointed out that there was no rule barring Muslims from becoming citizens, she continued to make false claims. On being corrected by political commentator Abhijit Iyer Mitra, she quietly deleted her tweet.

Given her anti-India antecedents, it comes as no surprise that Avani Dias is now trying to exploit her ‘visa extension denial’ and subsequent renewal to stir sympathy in her favour.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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