On Friday, 5 May, the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) Swaminarayan temple in Australia’s Sydney was vandalised by allegedly pro-Khalistani supporters, according to New South Wales (NSW) police.
Australia Today reported that the temple management found graffiti painted across its front wall which read “Declare Modi Terrorist (BBC).” The perpetrators also allegedly left a Khalistan flag hanging on the temple gate. The incident took place in Sydney’s western suburb Rosehill.
Though Praful Jethwa, Spokesperson for BAPS Australia, spoke to The Quint and said,
"I am not able to confirm if there was a Khalistani flag. However, some other media outlets have mentioned it. The matter is being investigated by the local authorities, and therefore no further information is available."Praful Jethwa, Spokesperson for BAPS, Australia
This has come weeks ahead of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia on May 23, where he will attend the Quad Leaders’ Summit.
As per reports, the incident was brought to the attention of the police by the temple management at 7 am. The management provided purported CCTV footage of the attack to the police.
Later in the day, The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha released a statement on its website appealing for peace. It read:
“We are deeply saddened by the anti-India graffiti on the walls of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Rosehill, Sydney by anti-social elements. We are further disheartened that BAPS temples in Australia have been targeted for a second time. For the last 23 years, the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir has been a cornerstone of the local community and a prominent Hindu Temple which, like all BAPS temples worldwide, is an abode of peace and harmony, equality, selfless service and universal Hindu values. At this time, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha prays for peace and unity, and has appealed for all devotees and well-wishers in the community to maintain peace.”
On 12 January, the BAPS Swaminarayan Temple in Melbourne was vandalised, allegedly by Khalistani supporters.
Just four days later, on January 16, the Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple in Carrum Downs, Victoria, was also vandalised, allegedly pro-Khalistani elements.
On 23 January, Melbourne’s ISCKON temple was vandalised with anti-India graffiti reading “Hindustan Murdabad” and “Khalistan Zindabad”.
More recently, in March, Brisbane's Shree Laxmi Narayan Temple was also vandalised similarly allegedly by Khalistani supporters.
The Quint has reached out to the New South Wales (NSW) police.
The story will be updated with their response.