Aussie gurdwaras ban Indian envoys from visits in official capacity

In response, Indian High Commission in Canberra said 'no question of meddling in their affairs'

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VIDEO GRAB: In November 2017, several Sikhs protested against India’s High Commissioner in Australia, Dr AM Gondane (right, in black suit), when he visited a gurdwara in Melbourne’s west

The Aussie gurdwaras are following the footsteps of their counterparts in the US, Canada and UK by slapping a ban on Indian officials from visiting the Sikh place of worship in their official capacity, adding that they are free to visit as individuals.

Twenty gurdwaras and 15 Sikh organisations have announced a ban on “government activities” by the representatives of the Indian government in the gurdwaras and Sikh events in a joint statement on Sunday (28 Jan 2018), reports SBS Punjabi.

“This ban would also extend to organisations involved in anti-Sikh activities, such as the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Shiv Sena’s office bearers,” the report quoted Harkirat Singh Ajnoha of the Supreme Sikh Council of Australia while reading out the joint statement at Gurudwara Miri Piri in Melbourne.

The activists said the “atrocities” against the Sikhs were ongoing and the Indian government was protecting the police officers who “killed” Sikh men in alleged fake encounters. They also alleged that officials of the Indian consulate interfere in the internal affairs of Sikhism and harass those Sikhs who raise issues of human rights, the report said.

The same report added a response form the Indian High Commission in Canberra which had rejected the allegations.

“Indian officials outreach to all communities, associations, groups of Indian origin. There is no question of meddling in their affairs,” an official at the Indian High Commission told SBS Punjabi. “Invitations received by Mission/ Posts are respected and reciprocated.”

In November last year, several Sikh men held a protest demonstration against India’s High Commissioner in Australia, Dr AM Gondane, when he was visiting a gurdwara in Melbourne’s west, raising the issue of arrest of a British Sikh in India.

A spokesman for the Indian High Commission told SBS Punjabi today that what transpired at the Tarneit gurudwara was an “isolated incident” which had not been repeated anywhere. He said the High Commission and other officials attend functions organised by Sikh organisations.

“Recently the High Commissioner attended a function on the launch of a book on Sikh Heritage and Legacy in Sydney at the invitation of Sikh Youth Australia,” the official said.

Ajnoha said the campaign (to ban Indian officials from gurudwaras) began after the protest demonstration against the Indian High Commissioner at the Gurudwara in Tarneit. However, the management committee of the Tarneit gurudwara claims they were not consulted, the report added.

While Sri Guru Nanak Satsang Sabha Gurudwara, Blackburn confirmed that they would implement this decision, Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurudwara, Craigieburn already has a policy of not allowing any officials or politicians to use the stage of the Sikh temple. Parklea gurudwara in Sydney also told SBS Punjabi that it doesn’t allow any political activities on the temple premises, the SBS Punjabi report said.

 

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RELATED STORY:

Progress on Sikh issues causing a major headache for the Indian authorities (Asia Samachar, 2 Feb 2018)

Indian High Commissioner to Australia stopped from entering a Melbourne gurdwara – Report (Asia Samachar, 21 Nov 2017)

American Sikh Council supports complete boycott of Indian government officials at all gurdwaras​ (Asia Samachar, 24 Nov 2017)

 

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