India Asks Australia To Remain Vigilant On Khalistani Elements


New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said India had raised with Australia the matter of the so-called Khalistan referendum, which New Delhi rejects, and urged Canberra to ensure the safety and security of the Indian diaspora.

This comes in the wake of a violent clash that broke out between Khalistani supporters and a section of the Indian diaspora in Melbourne on January 29 even as Sikh separatists held a vote, or referendum, demanding the creation of ‘Khalistan’ – a separate homeland for the Sikhs.

“We strongly condemn such attacks by extremist elements and urge local authorities to investigate and punish the perpetrators. We have been repeatedly taking up with the Australian authorities our concerns about actions by such elements, including proscribed terrorist organizations,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, said during a media briefing Thursday.

He added, “We have also conveyed our firm rejection of the so-called Khalistan referendum, and politically motivated exercises by extremist elements.”

The clash, which involved around 100 people, happened at Melbourne’s Federation Square in which several people got injured and some were detented by the local Victoria Police.

“We have requested Australia 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,” said Bagchi.

He also said, “We have noted comments by Australian leaders condemning the violence in Melbourne. We will continue to take up this issue with the Australian authorities.”

The clashes were preceded by graffiti vandalism of Hindu temples in Melbourne, which India has said was done with the intention “to sow hatred and division among the peaceful multi-faith and multi-cultural Indian-American community”.

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