Melbourne: Two injured in scuffle between Sikh secessionists, pro-India demonstrators
The police arrested two men and issued penalty notices to them for riotous behaviour.
A scuffle erupted between two groups in Melbourne on Sunday as thousands voted in a non-binding referendum on the creation of a separate Sikh homeland, The Age reported.
The altercation took place between a group of Sikhs waving Khalistan flags and a group waving the Indian tricolour.
Videos of the incident showed the two groups engaging in demonstrations, followed by some Khalistan supporters attacking the pro-India demonstrators with flags.
The scuffle took place at 4.30 pm, when the pro-India group reached the site of the referendum at the city’s Federation Square. Two men were injured during the confrontation, News.Com.Au reported. The referendum was organised by secessionist group Sikhs for Justice, which has been banned in India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The Victoria Police arrested a 34-year-old man and a 39-year-old man and issued them penalty notices for riotous behaviour.
Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi wrote in a tweet that the clash was deeply disturbing.
“Gives me an immense pain to see sons of mother India fighting over plot by Pakistan,” he said. “Let’s ensure that together we defeat the K2 [Kashmir+Khalistan] plan of Pakistan.”
The incident took place on the back of reports that three temples in the state of Victoria were vandalised and anti-India graffiti had been scribbled on the sites.
On January 26, the Indian High Commission in Canberra had said that it strongly condemned the incidents.
“Signals that pro-Khalistan elements are stepping up their activities in Australia, actively aided and abetted by members of proscribed terrorist organisations such as the Sikhs for Justice [SFJ] and other inimical agencies from outside Australia, have been evident for some time,” the High Commission had said.
Commenting on the referendum, the High Commission had urged the Australian government not to allow its territory to be used for activities detrimental to the territorial integrity, security and national interest of India.
A similar referendum was held by Sikhs for Justice in Canada in two parts on September 19 and November 6.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs had said that Canada will not recognise the referendum. The ministry’s spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, however, added that New Delhi “finds it deeply objectionable that politically-motivated exercises by extremist elements are allowed to take place in a friendly country”.