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3 more arrested in Australia for Khalistan clashes

Source: PTI
March 30, 2023 17:28 IST
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The Australian police have arrested three more people in connection with two incidents of brawl that broke out between Khalistan activists and pro-India demonstrators in Melbourne in late January, the police said on Thursday.

IMAGE: Manpreet Vohra, India's high commisioner to Australia, offers prayers at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Melbourne, amid reports of attacks on Hindu temples in Victoria state. Photograph: ANI on Twitter

The alleged incidents happened during the so-called 'Punjab independence referendum' where two fights broke out between the two groups which injured several people on January 29, the Victoria police said in a statement.

Apparently, flag poles were used by several men as weapons which caused physical injuries to multiple victims, the statement said.

The US-based Sikhs for Justice, the group spearheading the non-binding referendum, is a banned organisation in India.

The three arrested include a 23-year-old man charged with affray and unlawful assault while a 36-year-old and 39-year-old have been charged with affray and violent disorder, the police said.

The identities of the arrested men have not been disclosed.

Earlier, two men aged 34 and 39 were arrested and issued a penalty notice for riotous behaviour.

All those charged this week have been bailed to appear at the Melbourne magistrates' court on August 8.

Further investigation is underway and the police are making enquiries to identify and apprehend any further alleged offenders from the day, the statement added.

India has asked the Australian government to curb the anti-India activities of the Khalistani separatists and frequent attacks on the Hindu temples in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised concerns over the recent attacks on temples in Australia as well as pro-Khalistan activities there with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese during their meeting in New Delhi this month.

Albanese has assured Modi that the safety of Indians was a "special priority" for him.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had also raised the issue during his meeting with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong.

"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 Indian high commission in Canberra said in a strongly-worded statement on January 26. 

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