Modi flags concerns over temple attacks in Australia, gets a clear assurance
PM Modi said the two leaders had discussed the attacks on temples and “activities of separatist elements” in Australia in the past and again at their meeting in Sydney
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday reiterated India’s concerns about attacks on temples and activities of separatists to his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese, who assured him of action on these matters.
Participating in a joint media interaction with Albanese after their bilateral talks, Modi said the two leaders had discussed the attacks on temples and “activities of separatist elements” in Australia in the past and again at their meeting in Sydney.
“We discussed the matter again today. We will not accept any elements that harm the friendly and warm ties between India and Australia by their actions or thoughts,” Modi said, speaking in Hindi.
“I thank the prime minister for the actions that have already been taken. Prime Minister Albanese has once again assured me today that he will take strict actions against such elements in the future also.”
Talking to reporters in Sydney, Australian foreign minister Penny Wong said her government will ensure that there is “no space for violence”.
Wong said, “I’ve had a lot of discussions about this, and I would make this point – that we are a multi-cultural democracy. We safeguard our social cohesion, there is no space for hatred and there is certainly no space for violence and that’s the approach the government will be taking.”
Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra told a media briefing that the attacks on temples are “disruptive to the relationship” and that the Australian side has made progress in addressing the issue. He said relevant departments in both countries will remain in touch so that “they can closely coordinate whenever information on such matters arises and needs to be exchanged so that timely action can be taken”.
Kwatra said, “The progress is clearly reflected in the fact that [Modi] thanked [Albanese] for the action that the government of Australia has taken, not just in making correct appreciation of the nature of such activities but also against the elements which perpetrated such attacks.”
India and Australia will not allow the disruption of their strong, extensive and multifaceted ties by such elements, and “whatever both sides need to do would be done”, he added.
Modi first raised the matter during Albanese’s visit to India in March, after pro-Khalistan elements vandalised several temples in Australia and organised protests in key cities such as Sydney and Brisbane. Elements linked to the proscribed Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) also targeted members of the Indian community while running a campaign for a so-called referendum on Khalistan.
Australian officials denounced the violence and said the referendum is not recognised by both countries. The Australian side had also said it wouldn’t tolerate any “extreme actions and attacks” on religious buildings and that Canberra would act on such issues in line with domestic laws.