Sydney protesters ask Modi to end conflict in Kashmir
A small group of protesters in Sydney has called on Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to end conflict in the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Outside New South Wales Parliament the protesters, from the Kashmir Council of Australia, said Mr Modi had his priorities wrong.
“We want a peaceful settlement of the dispute so that both nations, India and Pakistan, can progress,” the council’s founder Mumtaz Mian said.
The mountainous region of Kashmir, home to about 14 million people, has been divided between India and Pakistan since the countries won their independence from Britain in 1947.
Mr Mian also urged NSW Premier Mike Baird to raise the issue of poverty with the Indian leader, saying Mr Modi should be investing in education and health, not nuclear weapons or space exploration.
“He’s promoting a space race now, sending rockets to the moon and other planets,” Mr Mian said.
“He’s also spending on nuclear weapons; basically they’re building mass murder machines with money that should be diverted to fight against poverty and disease.”
Mr Mian outlined his concerns in a letter to the Speaker of the NSW Parliament, Shelley Hancock.
“There are millions of people in India living below the poverty line – they can’t even afford two meals a day,” he said.
Mr Modi is making a public address at Sydney’s Olympic Park later today, following his trip to attend the G20 summit in Brisbane at the weekend.
Thousands of members of the Indian community in Australia have arrived in Sydney ahead of his address, including more than 200 people who caught “the Modi Express” – a 12-hour train journey from Melbourne.