Australia: Pro-Khalistani supporters clash with Indians in Melbourne, 5 injured
At least five people were injured after clashes broke out between Khalistani supporters and the Indian diaspora during the pro-Khalistani referendum by the banned Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) in Melbourne, Australia, according to Australia Today. The fight reportedly broke out on Sunday evening after some men waving Indian flags arrived at the voting site in Federation Square to allegedly disrupt the voting.
Why does this story matter?
- The outlawed group SFJ had organized similar exercises in Canada last year.
- Referendum 2020 was a secessionist campaign by SFJ demanding Khalistan, a separate homeland for Sikhs. SFJ has been banned in India for its alleged anti-national activities.
- In October, India requested Interpol to issue a Red Corner Notice against SFJ founder GS Pannu, but the request was rejected.
Victoria Police used pepper spray, arrested two persons
According to The Age, the Victoria Police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. It said two persons were also arrested and charged with "rioting behavior." Meanwhile, many videos shared on Twitter showed pro-Khalistan activists beating Indians with sticks, injuring five people. They also reportedly snatched and damaged the Indian Tricolor, per the videos shared on Twitter.
India denounces pro-Khalistan referendums
The incident came just days after three temples in Melbourne were destroyed and smeared with anti-India slogans, purportedly by pro-Khalistani groups. India has been criticizing such attacks and pro-Khalistani referendums. India recently asked Canada to prevent "Khalistan Referendums" from taking place in Ontario on November 6, 2022. India has stated unequivocally it will continue to raise these concerns in New Delhi, Ottawa, and abroad.
BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa condemns the incident
Reacting to the videos, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa tweeted: "I strongly condemn anti-India activities by pro-Khalistani in Australia." "Anti-social elements that are trying to disrupt the peace and harmony of the country with these activities," he said, adding that such things must be dealt with strong action to bring the culprits to book.
Congress MP Abhishek Singhvi reacted over the incident too
Congress MP Abhishek Singhvi has also reacted to the incident. In a Twitter post, he wrote, "Deeply disturbed to see Sikh and Hindu communities clashing with each others in Melbourne." "Gives me an immense pain to see sons of mother India fighting over plot by Pakistan. Let's ensure that together we defeat the K2 (Kashmir+Khalistan) plan of Pakistan."
Watch: BJP spokesperson RP Singh shared clash video on Twitter
Pro-Khalistan referendums by banned SFJ
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is a US-based group that is spearheading the referendums in many countries. It has proposed a new state called 'Khalistan' in the Punjab regions of northern India and Pakistan, as well as parts of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Rajasthan. Those voting on Sunday were asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' to the question, "Should Indian-governed Punjab be an independent country?"