• Monday, June 17, 2024

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Khalistan extremism: Not convinced India, Australia are on same page, says Australian journalist

Stephen Dziedzic posted a series of tweets saying it was not clear what the Indian prime minister meant when he thanked the host nation for the “strong action” it supposedly took against Khalistan supporters.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 24: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (2nd-R) and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (2nd-L) attend a bilateral meeting at Admiralty House on May 24, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. Modi is visiting Australia on the heels of his and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s participation in the G7 Summit in Japan. (Photo by Dean Lewins-Pool/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

The issue of Khalistan extremists’ attack on Hindu temples and pro-India activists in Australia has snowballed into a major concern over the recent months and all eyes were on Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese in Sydney on Wednesday (24) as the former was expected to raise the matter with the host leader once again.

The two spoke over the menace when Albanese visited India in March this year.

India foreign secretary gives tough message to Khalistan menace in Australia: Here is what he said

While Modi said after the meeting that Albanese has assured him that “strict action” will be taken against Sikh separatist groups in Australia that have aim for an independent state in India and the Indian foreign secretary said in a press conference that progress over the matter was reflected in the fact that Modi thanked Albanese over his government’s action against elements that conduct such disruptive activities, an Australian journalist raised some questions over the entire episode.

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Stephen Dziedzic, foreign affairs reporter of ABC News, posted a series of tweets saying it was not clear what the Indian prime minister meant when he thanked the host nation for the “strong action” it supposedly took against Khalistan supporters on it soil. He then went on to say that he is convinced that “Australia and India are remotely on the same page”. He made the posts in connection to Indian foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra’s statement on Modi’s talks with Albanese over the Khalistan threat.

In another tweet, he said, “Two issues are being conflated (or muddled) here – sometimes deliberately. First there’s the vandalism of Hindu temples. It’s not yet clear who is responsible. But both sides agree this is unacceptable and unlawful. Easy for Albanese to promise strong action”

He then said that the second issue is “far trickier” for the host nation. “Modi and senior Indian govt officials are asking Australia to stop Khalistan supporters from holding referenda (and potentially other activities) in Australia because they view it as a direct threat to India’s national unity,” he said.

Hindu temples in big Australian cities such as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney have been targeted by pro-Sikh extremists in recent months. They have also conducted several non-binding “referenda” on setting up the independent state that they aim for, resulting in violent clashes with Indian nationalists in Melbourne.

Modi, who reached Sydney on Monday (22) for a three-day state visit, said he has been assured by Australia that it would not tolerate vandalism. He said neither of the two nations will accept elements that threaten their warm ties and that he thanked his Australian counterpart for the actions that his government has already taken.

The tensions in Australia are linked to US-based group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which wants Punjab in India’s north-west to become an independent nation called Khalistan. The movement had taken an alarming form in India in the mid-1980s and had also led to turmoil in Indian politics around then.

The Indian government banned SJF in 2019, and it has since taken hold in parts of the Sikh diaspora across many western nations such as Australia, the US, Canada and the UK.

According to an ABC News report co-written by Dziedzic, while it was not clear what “actions already taken” that the Indian prime minister was referring to, the Blacktown City Council had earlier in May cancelled a booking to host a pro-Khalistan “referendum” at a sports venue on grounds that the event could pose a risk.

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