Khalistanis protesting at Brisbane Indian Consulate

As the Khalistan referendum on March 19 is fast approaching,  Khalistani supporters in Australia are becoming more and more vocal. They suddenly turned up at the Indian Consulate in Brisbane on Wednesday blocked the entry raising slogans against the Hindus and India. The Consulate was forced to temporarily close operation.

Although the cheers for the referendum seem to be getting louder, not all Sikhs / Indian support the demand for a separate Khalistan or the way its supporters are going about it.

A video on the Sikhs for Justice Instagram quoted a disgruntled Parvinder Singh, who had taken leave from work to attend an appointment for his children’s OCI Card(s) at Indian Consulate, saying:

“These thugs should not be allowed to dictate how we live our life in Australia.”

Indians are demanding Queensland government and police to take appropriate action against whatever illegal activity has taken place in Brisbane.

Only on March 10 Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had said Australia will not tolerate any extreme actions and attacks that took place in religious buildings, and there is no place for such action against Hindu temples in New Delhi.

This had come about after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reportedly personally raised concerns about these developments with Mr Albanese on his trip to India.

Last month, Khalistani flags were also ‘hoisted’ at (found attached to) the Indian Consulate in Brisbane, just one day after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s visit to Australia on his way back from the International Hindi Mahasabha in Fiji.

Also read: Khalistan Referendum descends into violence in Melbourne

Putting the incident in perspective, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said its Honorary Consulate in Brisbane was “halted for little while”, and it had taken up the matter with Australian authorities and the teams of two countries are in touch.

“Consulate was halted for little while. The issue was raised with Australian authorities and they should take action. PM already spoke about such issues when Australian PM was in India. Our teams are in touch,” Arindam Bagchi, a spokesperson for the MEA said.

“There is Honorary Consulate there. I understand small number of protestors were there and there was some disruption, but it’s not closed, the Honrary Consulate continues to function providing necessary services. I would not like to comment on footage, particularly in a video footage which have not been confirmed or sometimes they give a wrong impression. But, yes we have taken it up with the Australian government. PM Modi has taken up the issue with Australian PM and we have been taking up it on a regular basis whenever such incidents occur,” he added.

Indians living in Australia will have to get used to these protests because there is no legal prohibition on the right to protest in Australia. What the supporters of Khalistan have to keep in mind that while Australia respects their right to protest, right to freedom of speech and free expression, they will not be allowed to cause any disruption or harm to others.

And they have to change the narrative and stop referring to Hindus as “supramacists”. If they continue, not many are going to be impressed, because Hindus have a centuries old glorious past of treating the whole humanity as their own.

There is certainly a rise in volume of the voices on Hinduphobia in Australia.

“It’s bad enough that our temples are attacked by radical Khalistanis, but sadly #Hinduphobia in Australia is becoming a normalised & regular occurrence”, wrote Mucha, a Twitter user.

On the temporary closure of operation of the office of Brisbane Indian Consulate, if the incident has caused any damage, loss of business to India, the Indian government, through its offices in Australia, should have be able to bring a claim against those who caused such damage or loss. Should it choose to do so, the Australian government, through its Queensland state offices, should be able to assist.

As of now, it is business as usual at the Brisbane Indian Consulate.

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