Home / News / India /  Modi and Albanese discuss Khalistan movement and temple vandalism in bilateral meet

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian PM Anthony Albanese discussed the spate of attacks by Khalistan supporters on Hindu religious sites in Australia during their bilateral meeting on Friday. This discussion comes after a number of prominent temples in Australian cities like Melbourne and Brisbane were vandalised by pro-Khalistan groups.

The issue has proved a persistent, but limited, irritant in bilateral ties. When the attacks began in January, the Indian High Commission in Canberra issued a strongly-worded condemnation which blamed pro-Khalistan groups like Sikhs for Justice.

“The frequency and impunity with which the vandals appear to be operating are alarming, as are the graffiti which include glorification of anti-Indian terrorists. These incidents are clear attempts to sow hatred and division among the peaceful multi-faith and multi-cultural Indian-Australian community," said the High Commission in a press release.

“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," it went on to say.

Foreign Ministers Penny Wong of Australia and Jaishankar discussed the matter in their bilateral talks as well. This was taken up during the bilateral meeting between the two Prime Ministers.

“It is a matter of regret that reports of attacks on temples have come regularly from Australia over the past few weeks. It is natural that such news worries everyone in India, disturbs our mind," said Prime Minister Modi in a joint press conference with Albanese.

According to Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, Albanese assured Modi that the Australian authorities will deal with the matter to assure social stability.

“The Prime Minister mentioned to the Prime Minister of Australia that this is something that disrupts the peace and harmony of both our societies and there is a need to take cognizance of the challenge that this represents," said Kwatra, in a press briefing here in New Delhi.

“The Australian leadership showed appreciation for our sensitisation and assured us of a suitable response that they would take in this context. They also agreed that the officials on both sides would stay in regular touch with each other," the veteran diplomat added.

However, the issue of Khalistan and temple vandalism has largely been a sideshow to a highly productive visit. During Albanese’s three-day visit, both countries have made meaningful strides on boosting economic, defence and education ties. In particular, India has been invited to join the Talisman Sabre defence exercises hosted by Australia and the United States. Albanese also announced a new scheme to recognise Indian educational qualifications in Australia, a move which will make it easier for Indian professionals to work in the country. Deakin University, located in Victoria Province, will be among the first foreign universities to set up a campus in India.

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