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Saturday January 28, 2023

Ahead of Khalistan Referendum: Tensions in Australia over poster glorifying Indira Gandhi’s assassins

Upcoming Khalistan Referendum in Australia has fuelled yet another controversy in which Indira Gandhi’s assassins are being glorified by placing banners across Melbourne

By Our Correspondent
January 10, 2023
Tensions high in Australia after posters glorifying Indira Gandhi’s assassins ahead of Khalistan Referendum. The News reporter
Tensions high in Australia after posters glorifying Indira Gandhi’s assassins ahead of Khalistan Referendum. The News reporter

MELBOURNE: Upcoming Khalistan Referendum in Australia has fuelled yet another controversy in which Indira Gandhi’s assassins are being glorified by placing banners across Melbourne. A car rally has also been planned for January 15 to mark the 34th martyrdom anniversary of Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh executed in 1989 for assassinating the former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to avenge Operation Blue Star against the Golden Temple of Amritsar.

A poster of the Khalistan Referendum outside Plumpton Gurdwara was widely shared across social media platforms carrying photographs of Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh and announcing: “The Last Battle. Khalistan Referendum. Voting January 29, Melbourne”. The social media posts irked the Australian Hindu Community which approached Anthony Albenes’ government demanding the banning of referendum voting slated for January 29. The banners carrying pictures of the leader of Sikh militancy Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and the assassins of Indira Gandhi, have reportedly been vandalized by defacing them, resulting in a counter uproar by the Sikh community who lodged vandalism and hate complaints with the authorities. Bhindranwale was gunned down in the Indian Army action in Golden Temple in June 1984.

Ahead of Khalistan Referendum: Tensions in Australia over poster glorifying Indira Gandhi’s assassins

India vehemently lodged its reservations with the Australian Government over the Khalistan Referendum voting, but the Australian Government did not ban the ongoing Khalistan Referendum campaign and scheduled voting in Melbourne organized by “Sikhs For Justice” (SFJ). The Australian Hindu Media shared the poster on Twitter. It read, “Plumpton Gurdwara glorifies murderers of Indira Gandhi in this poster. How on earth does this further a charitable purpose, Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission?”

In a sign of India’s unease, the Modi govt had warned Australia of the increasing presence of Khalistan activists in the country, in December last year after the Khalistan Referendum Rally was announced. The Indian media has complained that the Australian government has taken no concrete steps against the referendum. Last month, several Australian parliamentarians expressed solidarity with the local Sikhs community after The Australian newspaper attacked the pro-Khalistan activism and linked them with acts of terrorism.

Ahead of Khalistan Referendum: Tensions in Australia over poster glorifying Indira Gandhi’s assassins

Parliamentarians from cross parties expressed support for the Sikh community, giving full backing to the right of Sikhs to peacefully express themselves through voting. Rob Mitchell MP, the federal member of McEwen, said in a letter he was disappointed by recent articles in The Australian regarding the Sikh community in Melbourne. He said: “Be assured that these articles are in no way reflective of our views of the Sikh community. Australia values diversity and inclusion respects the right of individuals to engage in peaceful protest and supports the non-violent expression of views and beliefs. Freedom of expression is fundamental in open and democratic societies.”

David Shoebridge, Senator for New South Wales, and Senator Jordon Steele-john said The Australian newspaper on 6 December 2022 published an article which inappropriately allowed an anonymous representative of the foreign Indian government to attack the Sikh community in Australia. He said: “These attacks are not based on any material evidence. Our officers have heard from the Sikh community who understandably are offended and disturbed by the content of this article. “The Sikh community has a proud history of positive peaceful community support, community outreach and proactive contributions to our multiracial community.”

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