BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Australia’s Melbourne vandalised by Khalistan supporters

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu temple in Melbourne, Australia, was allegedly attacked by Khalistani supporters and defaced with anti-India graffiti, said The Australia Today in a report. The walls of the Swaminarayan temple in Melbourne’s northern suburb, Mill Park, were defaced with the slogans “Hindustan Murdabad”. Condemning the attack, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan temple said, “We are deeply saddened and shocked by these acts of vandalism and hate. We offer our prayers for peace and harmony and will provide a fuller statement in due course.” The report by The Australia Today also suggests that the Khalistan group praised Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and termed him a martyr by writing it on the temple walls. Bhindranwale is a widely perceived supporter of the creation of a proposed Sikh-majority state of Khalistan. “This vandalism is deeply distressing for Victoria’s peaceful Hindu community, especially at this holy time,” Evan Mulholland, Liberal MP for Northern Metropolitan Region, said as quoted by The Australia Today. Lily D’Ambrosio, Member for Mill Park and Minister in Victorian Government, told The Australia Today that “there is no place in our community for such attacks”. “I have reached out to the Mill Park Mandir today to express my concern with the attack on the temple. The Mandir is a very important site for worship across broader Melbourne and is used to host many events that grow a better understanding of the rich diversity of our community amongst all of us. I have visited on many occasions and hope that the appropriate authorities can identify those responsible and bring them to account”, said Lily D’Ambrosio. “When I reached the temple today morning all walls were coloured with graffiti of Khalistan’s hatred towards Hindus,” adding that “I am angry, scared and dismayed by the blatant display of religious hatred towards the peaceful Hindu community by Khalistan supporters,” a local Hindu told The Australia Today. Amit Sarwal, a journalist for The Australia Today, said, “The Hindu community in Melbourne has lodged a formal complaint with the police and MPs. The cultural minister also belongs to the same place where the incident took place. This has been going on since last year.” Messages against the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were also written on the walls of the temple. Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia also slammed the targeted attacks and strongly condemned the act.   “The strategically targeted attacks against Hindus across North America, has travelled through the United Kingdom to Australia. VHP Australia strongly condemns the defacing and vandalisations of the BAPS Hindu mandir or any place of worship of institution. This is shameful hate crime of Hindu phobia and blatant anti-India actiity,” said VHP Australia in a statement. Makrand Bhagwat, President Hindu Council of Victoria, Australia, said, “Any kind of hatred and vandalism against places of worship is unacceptable and we condemn it.” “This kind of activity is in violation of the racial and religious tolerance act of Victoria. We demand Victoria Police and Premier Dan Andrews to take strong action against the perpetrators,” he added. In September last year (2022), BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Canada was defaced by Canada-based Khalistani extremists with anti-India graffiti. There also, the temple walls were painted with anti-India slogans. The local Hindu community has said we will definitely raise this matter with the Victorian Multicultural Commission and the Multicultural Minister of Victoria because the death threat to Hindus is a very serious matter as the community is in fear from these Khalistan supporters. BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa has strongly condemned the vandalism, emphasising that such acts must not be carried out at places of worship. Sirsa said, “I personally feel that the way things are going in Canada and Australia are very disturbing for all of us.” He termed the incident as a “shameful act”, adding “no Sikh would ever dare to do this. Principally, no Sikh would ever think of doing this. I don’t know who are those people behind this.”