Bureau Report + Agencies
BRISBANE/ MELBOURNE: As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to host Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the pro-Khalistan separatist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) has announced to host. The March 19 vote in Brisbane follows a massive show of 55,000 Australian Sikhs in Melbourne’s Federation Square two weeks ago. General Counsel of Sikhs for Justice Group Tunat Singh Pinan announced that the March 19 “Battlefield-Brisbane” Khalistan Referendum Voting Center is dedicated to Shaheed Bhai Harmeet Singh Bhowwal and Shaheed Bibi Baljinder Kaur along with their nine-month-old son Powtar Singh were killed in the bomb blast. On 05 December 1992 by Indian Police Forces in Haryana.
“While the Modi government pursues violence to crush the Khalistan referendum, the SFJ is using voting to resolve the decades-old conflict between Sikhs and the Union of India,” SFJ General Counsel Gurpatwant Singh Panan said.
Panon, a New York-based attorney-at-law who is leading the global campaign for Khalistan, added, “We request Prime Minister Albani to teach Modi that in a democracy, secession and freedom can be achieved through voting. The pursuit cannot be termed as terrorism”. SFJ announced that several families of victims of the November 1984 Sikh Genocide from 32 Block Tirlokpuri, Delhi would travel to Brisbane on March 19 to campaign for the Khalistan referendum vote.
Tirlokpuri is a Delhi neighborhood where Hindu death squads were led by Congress leader Bhagat and BJP leader Ram Jain during November 1984, who were close associates of then BJP chief PM Vajpayee. Death squads gang-raped over 450 Sikh men and over 100 Sikh women in broad daylight in the presence of the police.
While more than 55,000 Sikh men and women over the age of 18 were eligible to cast their votes, an estimated 15,000 voters were unable to cast their votes due to time constraints. An estimated 300,000 Sikhs live there. Australian cities And the SFJ had announced that it would move the referendum campaign to other cities to accommodate Sikhs who wanted to express their democratic right to establish Khalistan.
Clashes broke out between Sikh youths and Hindutva supporters outside the polling centers and local police arrested at least two people. Videos show a group of Hindutva supporters attacking Sikh voters. Sikhs for Justice also released videos of a group of Indian men attempting to vandalize Sikh Gurdwaras and actually vandalized three local Gurdwaras for supporting the Khalistan referendum.
Indian Gov’t has initiated complaints with the UK, Canadian and Australian governments against Sikh groups, particularly the SFJ, for campaigning in favor of Khalistan. These governments have told Indians that no law has been violated and that they cannot do anything to prevent their citizens from participating in the democratic exercise while they stand by the Indian government.
Last week, India told Canada that the Khalistan issue was a “national security issue” for New Delhi and that Ottawa should take tough action against Sikh groups. Sikhs for Justice says its activities are democratic and peaceful and are governed by local laws.
Earlier thousands of Australian Sikhs formed queues in Melbourne’s Federation Square to cast their votes for the Khalistan Referendum voting at the sprawling local arts centre.
Sikhs living in and around Melbourne started gathering to cast their votes at 7am for the start of voting at 8am with the religious Sikh prayers, conducted by local leaders.