Hindu community alarmed by attacks on temples

“These incidents are clear attempts to sow hatred and division in the peaceful multi-religious and multi-cultural Indo-Australian community.”

The High Commission said there had been signs that pro-Khalistan elements had increased their activities in Australia in recent months and it had repeatedly raised concerns with the federal government and Australian officials in Delhi.

Victoria Police are investigating the incidents and have asked anyone with information to contact authorities.

Acting Victorian Prime Minister Jacinta Allan said it was a shame to desecrate religious temples.

“Victoria’s diversity is one of our strongest assets and we condemn these attacks,” she said.

The Federation Square voting center for what campaigners are calling the Punjab’s independence referendum was named after Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh, who were executed for their part in the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984.


The Sunday poll is organized by a US-based group called Sikhs for Justice, which is banned in India. The group intends to use the results of polls around the world to pressure the United Nations to recognize a separate Sikh state.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, general counsel for Sikhs for Justice, said the group had no information that the recent acts of vandalism were linked to the Khalistan referendum.

“Through this referendum, we want to quantify the will of the Sikh people on the Khalistan issue and refute the Indian government’s narrative that the Khalistan call is unpopular and supported by a small fringe faction of Sikhs,” he said.

“Through the referendum, we want the world to know that Khalistan is a political opinion, not terrorism, and that advocating Khalistan through a referendum is peaceful, democratic and non-violent.”

Pannun said an overwhelming number of Sikhs have been forced to flee their homes due to persecution by Indian authorities.

Arjun Saka, a resident monk at the ISKCON Albert Park Temple, said: “This was hate speech and religious slander.

“The motive is very clear: to gain international attention by targeting places of worship.”

Bhakta Das, the temple’s communications director, said both local Hindus and Sikhs have been shaken by recent events.

“Some people are trying to create disruption between the Hindu and Sikh communities and that needs to be found out,” he said.

Barry O’Farrell, Australia’s High Commissioner for India, said on Twitter he was shocked by the vandalism, adding: “Our strong support for freedom of expression does not include hate speech or violence.”


Labor MP Josh Burns, whose Macnamara constituency includes Albert Park, said on Facebook he was shocked to learn of the attack.

“Racial and religious hatred, slander and vandalism have no place in multicultural Australia and certainly not in Macnamara where people of all backgrounds live together in harmony,” he said.

The 2021 census found that there were an estimated 210,000 Sikhs in Australia – up from 130,000 in 2016 – with almost half of this cohort residing in Victoria. The number of Hindus in Australia grew from 440,300 in 2016 to 684,000 in 2021.

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Callan Tansill

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