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Khalistani supporters, Indians clash in Australia; 2 arrested

New Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) A scuffle broke out between the Indian diaspora and Khalistan supporters in Australia during a referendum called by the banned Sikhs For Justice for the creation of an independent Sikh state, local media reported.

The brief fracas broke out at 4.30 p.m. on Sunday after a group of pro-India supporters waving national flags arrived at the voting site in Federation Square, Melbourne, The Age reported.

The Victoria Police, which used pepper spray to quell the protests, said two men, aged 34 and 39, were arrested and issued a penalty notice for their riotous behaviour.

In several videos posted on Twitter, Khalistan supporters were seen attacking Indians with sticks in broad daylight. They were also seen snatching and damaging the Indian Tricolour.

Reacting to the videos, 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 & harmony of the country with these activities, must be dealt with strongly and culprits must be brought to books.”

Two men were injured at the demonstration — one with a head laceration and the other with a hand injury — and police are continuing to investigate the injuries, The Age reported.

The Khalistan Referendum campaign is being run across the world by pro-Khalistan Sikhs For Justice, calling for a new state that would take in the Punjab regions of northern India and Pakistan.

The attack came despite the Indian community in Australia informing the police about the planned protest at the Federation Square in Melbourne, The Australia Today reported.

“My parents who live in Jalandhar have told me these Khalistanis are very dangerous and will not hesitate from attacking,” a terrified Lovepreet Kaur (name changed) had told The Australia Today.

In the month of January alone, Khalistan supporters attacked three Hindu Temples in Melbourne with anti-India graffiti.

Strongly condemning the incidents, India asked Australia to bring perpetrators to the book and ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future.

On Republic Day, the Indian High Commission in Canberra issued a statement asking the Australian government to ensure the safety and security of Indians with referendums being planned in Melbourne and Sydney.

“These incidents are clear attempts to sow hatred and division among the peaceful multi-faith and multi-cultural Indian-Australian community,” the Indian Mission in Australia had said.

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