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After Sikh temples in the US and Canada banned Indian officials from any official activities inside gurudwaras, a similar announcement has been made by Sikh temples in Australia to end “Indian influence” in Sikh institutions.
In a joint statement issued on Sunday, 20 Gurudwaras and 15 different Sikh organisations have purportedly announced a ban on “government activities” by the representatives of the Indian government in the Gurdwaras and Sikh events.
“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,” said 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 Indian High Commission in Canberra 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.”
However, the joint statement issued by the Sikh organisations clarified that anyone could visit the Gurudwaras in their personal capacity as devotees.
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 Gurudwara in Melbourne’s west, raising the issue of arrest of a British Sikh in India.
Protest against Indian High Commissioner AM Gondane
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 organized 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.
Mr 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.
While Sri Guru Nanak Satsang Sabha Gurudwara, Blackburn confirmed they would implement this decision, the management of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurudwara, Craigieburn said they already have a policy of not allowing any officials or politicians to use the stage of the Sikh temple. A member of the management of the Parklea gurudwara in Sydney also told SBS Punjabi they don't allow any political or official activities by Indian consulate officials on the temple premises.
It's not clear which are all the twenty Gurudwaras that have decided to be a part of this decision. Harkirat Singh Ajnoha of the Supreme Sikh Council of Australia, who made the announcement did not respond to phone calls and text messages by SBS Punjabi.
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