New Delhi: India said on Thursday that it expects the Australian authorities to take action against those who forced India’s honorary consulate in Brisbane to shut down temporarily and ensure such incidents are not repeated in future, after pro-Khalistani supporters blocked the entrance to the Brisbane consulate.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, answering a query on the issue, said that some factually wrong stories were coming in the media that the consulate had been shut down.
He said the consulate was shut down for a while, and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken up with visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese the issue of pro-Khalistani elements attacking Hindu temples.
“It is our honorary consulate; it was shut for a short while. As you heard PM Modi speak directly, these matters were raised by him when the Australian PM was here recently; And this incident took place around that time, just after the visit; And this too has been raised with the Australian authorities.
“And we expect them to take appropriate action against those who are doing this, so that it does not happen again. I don’t want to comment since the PM has already spoken on the issue,” he said.
He also added that teams from India and Australia are in touch with each other over the incident, days after Prime Minister Modi said that officials from both sides would work together to tackle such incidents, following talks with the Australian PM.
“Yes, our teams are in touch. That’s how we take this up quickly. I’m not going to get into the composition or the level of the teams, but they are in touch,” the spokesperson said.
He also said that India has taken up the Brisbane incident with Australia.
“…Yes, we have taken it up with the Australian government. You heard the Prime Minister take it up with the Australian Prime Minister, and we have been taking up on a regular basis whenever such incidents occur. Unfortunately, they have occurred a number of times.”
Referring to the referendum call by Khalistani elements, he said: “As regards to the so-called referendum, our views are very clear on this. I’m not going to spell it out again, what we are going to tell them, but certainly such politically motivated exercises we do not have any support for and we have flagged it to our counterpart, not just in Australia but in other parts wherever such efforts have been made.”
On March 10, after holding of the first annual bilateral summit with his Australian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had raised the issue of the vandalization of Indian temples with PM Albanese and been assured of the safety of the Indian community there.
In his media statement at Hyderabad House, Prime Minister Modi said:
“It is a matter of deep concern that news of attacks on Indian temples is coming regularly from Australia. It is natural that this is causing worry and mental anguish to the people of India.
“I presented our feelings and worries before Prime Minister Albanese, and he has given assurance that the safety of the Indian community is of prime importance to him.
“Our teams will remain in touch with each other regularly and support each other on this,” the Prime Minister added.
Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra, in a special briefing, had said that during the talks between the two leaders “there were also discussions on the disturbances created by pro-Khalistani outfits in Australia”.
“PM Modi expressed strong concern on the incidents of vandalism and violence targeting the Indian community and temples in Australia. These were also mentioned in his media statement.
“PM Albanese assured PM Modi that his government has deep understanding and appreciation of India’s concern and will be taking all necessary measures to ensure that peace and harmony prevails in the society,” FS Kwatra said.
India’s honorary consulate in Brisbane was forced to close briefly on Wednesday after pro-Khalistan supporters blocked its entrance. Earlier on February 21, pro-Khalistan supporters, said to be from the outlawed Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), had fixed a flag outside the same building, which was later confiscated by the police.
The incident comes after several temples, especially in Melbourne, were vandalised in recent weeks with anti-India graffiti by pro-Khalistan supporters.
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