New Delhi, Jan 31: A day after India raised security concerns, several ministers of the ruling Anthony Albanese government in Australia came forward on Tuesday to severely condemn the communal violence unleashed by Khalistani supporters on the streets of Melbourne over the weekend.
Australian Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles said that he was “concerned” while the country’s Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs and MP Tim Watts stated that he was “appalled” to see violence break out at Federation Square in Melbourne on Sunday.
“I was concerned to see violence break out at Federation Square in Melbourne on Sunday. Australia respects the right of individuals to engage in peaceful protest and supports the non-violent expression of views. Pleased Victoria Police responded quickly and are investigating,” tweeted Giles today.
“I was appalled to see the violence at Fed Square in Melbourne on the weekend. People have the right to engage in peaceful protest in Australia, but there is no place for the violence or vandalism we’ve seen recently. Pleased Victoria Police responded quickly and are investigating,” added Watts.
Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell, a former Premier of New South Wales, also took to social media, saying that he was saddened by the violence so soon after both countries celebrated diversity and unity on their respective national days.
“Saddened by these scenes so soon after Australia and India celebrate diversity and unity on their respective national days. Our commitment to peaceful protest does not extend to violence,” tweeted the Australian High Commissioner.
As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, Indian High Commissioner to Australia Manpreet Vohra called on Victoria Premier Dan Andrews on Monday to convey New Delhi’s deep concern with the pro-Khalistan elements stepping up their activities in Australia, engaging in violence and holding the so-called referendum in Melbourne and Sydney.
Citing India’s strong and growing bilateral relationship with Australia, Vohra discussed with Andrews the issue of stopping extremist Khalistani groups from engaging in further activities prejudicial to peace and harmony.
Canberra has already been made aware of activities/members of proscribed terrorist organisations such as the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) which are using the Australian territory for activities detrimental to the territorial integrity, security and national interest of India.
Tensions boiled over on Sunday as members of radical Sikh groups clashed with the Indian diaspora during a so-called Khalistan referendum event.
Several people were injured in the clashes as, members of pro-Khalistani groups engaged in violence and also desecrated the Indian national flag, the videos of which have now gone viral on social media.
Sunday’s incident follows the deeply disturbing incidents of vandalisation, including of three Hindu temples, by pro-Khalistan elements in Melbourne in recent weeks.
Stating that these incidents are clear attempts to sow hatred and division among the peaceful multi-faith and multi-cultural Indian-Australian community, the Indian High Commission had earlier raised an alarm at the frequency and impunity with which the vandals appear to be operating and their use of graffiti which glorified anti-Indian terrorists.
New Delhi has urged the Australian government to ensure the safety and security of members of the Indian community and their properties in Australia, hoping at the same time that not only the perpetrators are brought to justice but suitable action is also taken to prevent further attempts.
On Monday, the Indian Ambassador in Australia also paid respects at the sacred BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, the iconic ISKCON Krishna Temple and the historic Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple in Melbourne, which were defaced with anti-India graffiti earlier this month.
Vohra said he discussed the peaceful community’s concerns over recent attack by vandals, and the disturbing violence witnessed in Melbourne on Sunday.
The Indian diplomat said that the hate-filled graffiti by pro-Khalistani elements was threatening the peaceful Indian-Australian community in Melbourne and must be stopped.
“Confident that they will not succeed,” tweeted Vohra.