Tensions rise ahead of Khalistan voting in Brisbane

Members of the Sikh community protested against the Indian government. – Photo by the author

BRISBANE: Tensions are high here ahead of the March 19 Khalistan referendum vote as dozens of Pro-Khalistan Sikhs India’s honorary consulate in Brisbane was seized and forced to close, and the Australian government issued an updated travel advisory warning its citizens not to travel to India due to the “high risk of violence” in some states, including Punjab. was advised.

Ahead of the March 19 polls organized by a pro-Khalistan separatist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ)India’s Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arndam Bagchi has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese the recent alleged incidents of pro-Khalistan activities in Australia along with attacks on temples in Australia.

It is understood that Indian Prime Minister Modi took up the matter with the Australian government after more than 50,000 Sikhs voted. Khalistan Referendum for the first phase of the referendum in Melbourne at the end of January this year. Street clashes broke out between Sikh and Hindu groups outside the voting center and several arrests were made.

Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) have said that Sikhs in Australia have come under attack from hard-line Hindutva supporters and have been caught on defamatory videos. Khalistan On March 15, the Indian Consulate on Swan Road in Brisbane had to be closed after supporters of Khalistan blocked its entry after chanting slogans for justice from Sikh temples.

Queensland Police have said that the pro-Khalistan and anti-India protests were legitimate and peaceful. MEA spokesperson Bagchi confirmed in his media talk that a group of Sikh protesters entered the consulate and the work was stopped. Bagchi said that India has taken up the matter with the Australian authorities.

General Counsel of Sikhs for Justice Gurpatwant Singh Pinan announced that the March 19 “Battlefield-Brisbane” Khalistan Referendum Voting Center is dedicated to Martyr Bhai Harmeet Singh Bhowwal and Martyr Bibi Baljinder Kaur along with their nine-month-old son Powtar Singh. were killed in the bomb blast. On 5 December 1992 in Haryana by Indian police forces.

“While the Modi government is resorting to violence to crush the Khalistan referendum, the SFJ is using voting to resolve the decades-old conflict between Sikhs and the Union of India,” SFJ General Counsel Gruptunat Singh Pinan said in a video message. is doing.” “We urged Prime Minister Albany to teach Modi that secession and freedom through voting in a democracy cannot be termed as terrorism,” added Panon, a New York-based attorney at law. Who is leading the global campaign for the establishment of Khalistan.

It is understood that the Indian government is not happy with a recent Australian travel advisory warning its citizens to exercise extreme caution when planning to travel to India.

“We now advise you to reconsider the need to travel to the Attari-Wahgah border crossing, north-eastern states of Assam (except Guwahati), Nagaland and Manipur. And Chhattisgarh, and border areas of neighboring states. due to the high risk of violence,” the government said in its latest advisory.

The Australian government has also urged its citizens not to travel to India’s illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and the India-Pakistan border (except the Attari-Wahagh border crossing) due to the risk of armed conflict.

The March 19 vote for the Khalistan referendum is set to take place at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, a government-run facility, while pro-India Hindu groups are expected to stage a counter-protest.

The Indian government and a pro-Indian faction of the Indian diaspora seem upset by Australia’s refusal to end the Khalistan referendum campaign and voting, which India views as “terrorism challenging India’s territorial integrity”.

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