New Delhi, January 30
Rising tensions within Australia's Indian Diaspora exploded in Melbourne on Sunday leaving two people injured and many detained in two separate brawls between Khalistani activists and pro-India demonstrators during the so-called ‘Punjab independence referendum’.
Indian High Commissioner to Australia Manpreet Vohra visited two of the temples where anti-India and pro-Khalistani had been daubed and also met the Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews to discuss, among other issues, the violence that led to two men being treated for minor injuries while the police used pepper spray to break up brawls during the voting for the “referendum” on Sunday.
It was a privilege to call on Premier of Victoria @DanielAndrewsMP today. Discussed our strong and growing bilateral relationship, the violence in Melbourne yesterday, and how to stop extremist Khalistani groups engaging in further activities prejudicial to peace and harmony. pic.twitter.com/BSA9xlGNX6— Manpreet Vohra (@VohraManpreet) January 30, 2023
Vohra said Australia should not allow Khalistani groups to enter the country to sow disharmony. Though Indian diplomats had raised the red flag, he was “disappointed” that the issue could not be nipped in the bid. The Indian envoy had visited the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir and the ISKCON Krishna Temple which were vandalised earlier by suspected pro-Khalistani elements.
Blessed to visit the iconic ISKCON Krishna Temple in Albert Park, Melbourne. This is another holy place that was vandalized recently by pro-Khalistani elements. Their hate-filled grafitti was threatening to the peaceful Indian-Australian community in Melbourne and must be stopped pic.twitter.com/7ZZk8qI3R5— Manpreet Vohra (@VohraManpreet) January 30, 2023
“Signals that pro-Khalistan elements are stepping up their activities in Australia, actively aided and abetted by members of proscribed terrorist organisations such as the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and other inimical agencies from outside Australia, have been evident for some time,” said a Indian High Commission statement.
“It has been highlighted to the Australian Government to ensure the safety and security of members of the Indian community and their properties, and to not allow the use of Australian territory for activities detrimental to the territorial integrity, security and national interest of India,” it added.
Vohra later told a media channel that the “majority of Sikhs anywhere, even here in Australia, do not support any such secessionist tendencies. They are proud Sikhs and Australians and Indians. Many often feel threatened and cowed down by radical elements who try to take over Gurdwaras. They have a hate-filled ideology and the silent majority must stand up and not give space to them here.”
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