Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell on Monday said Australia’s respect for Indian sovereignty is unwavering, adding that the “so-called” Khalistan referendum call has no legal standing in Australia.
The Australian High Commissioner added that the Khalistan Referendum stands on no legal grounds in Australia as his country has an “unwavering respect” for India’s sovereignty. The hardening of stance against suspected Khalistani elements in the country comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit Down Under this week.
Barry O’Farrell said, “Respect for Indian sovereignty is unwavering. The so-called Khalistan referendum call has no legal standing in Australia.”
“Most appalled to see temples being targeted, police are active and continue to be active to deal with those responsible,” the Australian High Commissioner to India said further.
There have been fears of an upturn on activities by the separatist outfit after suspected Khalistan supporters vandalised temples in Australia.
Concerns grew further after suspected Khalistan supporters allegedly vandalised the Indian Consulate in Brisbane on the night of February 21. While there have been multiple attacks on Indians settled in Australia, this marked the first time an institution belonging to the Indian government came under attack.
“The attack the Indian Consulate in Brisbane (by suspected Khalistan supporters) is a direct attack on the Government of India,” J Bhardwaj, editor, The Australia Today, told ANI earlier.
Honorary Consul of India in Brisbane, Archana Singh, said she found a Khalistan flag attached to the office when she arrived for work on February 22. She added that she immediately notified the Queensland Police, which confiscated the flag and ensured that the Indian Consul was not under any immediate threat.
Australia Today had reported earlier that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his deputy Minister V Muraleedharan’s visit to Sydney and Melbourne in February had rattled the Khalistanis based in the US and Canada.
However, on the same day, suspected Khalistan supporters allegedly vandalised two Hindu Temples during celebration of Mahashivratri.
Emboldened by the alleged inaction of Australian security agencies and respective state police authorities, Khalistan supporters called Sydney Murugan Temple’s director, A. Poopalasingam and the director of Educational Activities, T. Sinnarajah, threatening them with dire consequences if they did not raise pro-Khalistan slogans, Australia Today reported earlier.
In January, Australia Today reported the vandalism of the historic Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple in the Carrum Downs suburb of Melbourne by Khalistan supporters on the occasion of the three-day-long “Thai Pongal” festival.
A video was circulated by suspected Khalistan supporters in which they were heard threatening volunteers of Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple on the morning of February 18.
The temple was threatened with dire consequences before starting the ‘havan’ if pro-Khalistan slogans were not raised. “If not, we will raise the Khalistan flag in your temple,” the threat call, as reported by The Australia Today, went.
President of the Victoria chapter of the Hindu Council of Australia, Makrand Bhagwat, was quoted as saying by The Australia Today, “I can’t tell you how upset I am seeing Hindu temples being threatened with Khalistan propaganda.”
In a statement to The Australia Today, the Indian High Commission in Canberra said, “(The) High Commission of India has taken up the issue with relevant Australian authorities for necessary action.”
Meanwhile, the Australian High Commissioner to India informed further that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will arrive in Ahmedabad on Wednesday evening to take part in Holi celebrations.
PM Modi and his Australian counterpart will also watch day 1 of the final test match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Ahmedabad, the envoy informed.