On Thursday, the Khalistani supporters gathered outside the Honorary Indian Consulate in Australia’s Brisbane and chanted anti-India slogans at the entrance for some time. Australian media also reported that the consulate was forced to shut down for a short period after Khalistani supporters impeded entry into the consulate by yelling anti-Hindu slogans outside it. However, the Ministry of External Affairs has denied it and said that the consulate continued to function normally. This comes days after the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese pledged to stop the spread of anti-Indian animosity in the nation.
According to the reports, the Khalistani activists raised anti-India slogans at the Consulate and called the Hindus as ‘supremacists’. The Consulate is located on Swann Road in the Taringa suburb of Brisbane.
“Indian Consulate was forced to close today due to safety concerns after Sikhs for Justice targeted them with their propaganda. They have been shouting Khalistan Zindabad slogans,” Sarah L. Gates, Director of Hindu Human Rights was quoted as saying.
In the videos of the incident, the Khalistanis are seen carrying placards saying that “Hindu mobs killed 570 Sikhs, injured 13,000” in 1966.
Consulate of India, Brisbane Australia was targeted by Khalistanis.
The consulate was forced to shut down after unauthorized gathering of Khalistani supporters blocked the entry. pic.twitter.com/eMiy1MXeLI
— Woke Janta (@WokeJanta) March 15, 2023
According to the Queensland Police, it was an unauthorised gathering by the Khalistanis, but still, they were allowed to enter the consulate premises and block the entrance. As a result, people who had appointments with the consulate had to reschedule their appointments, according to Australia Today.
Responding to queries regarding the incident, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the issue was raised with Australian authorities, and they should take action. “PM already spoke about such issues when Australian PM was in India,” he added.
Arindam Bagchi clarified that it is an honorary consulate of India located in Brisbane, and it is not a Consulate General of India. He further refuted media reports that it was closed down due to the Khalistanis. He said that a small number of protestors had gathered outside it and chanted slogans for some time, but the consulate continued to function normally. He said that there were some disruptions for a while, but the consulate was not shut down as claimed in media reports.
Arindam Bagchi refused to comment on video footage of the incident, saying it is not possible to comment on unverified videos. He added that teams of India and Australia are in touch, and the matter was raised immediately with the Australian authorities.
It is notable that an honorary consulate is a type of consulate that is headed by an honorary consul, who is not a professional diplomat and does not receive a salary. Honorary consuls are typically citizens or residents of the host country where they live. They are designated by a foreign government to look after the affairs of its citizens.
While honorary consuls do not receive a salary for their services, but they may receive certain privileges and benefits associated with their position, such as diplomatic immunity, tax exemptions, and access to official functions and events. The main role of an honorary consulate is to promote trade, cultural exchange, and other types of cooperation between the host country and the country they represent. They may also provide consular services, such as issuing visas, assisting citizens of their home country who are travelling or living in the host country, and handling legal and administrative matters.
Honorary consulates are typically established in cities or regions where there is a significant population of nationals from the country they represent, but where there is not enough demand or resources to justify a full-fledged embassy or consulate. They may also be established in remote or less developed areas where a full-fledged consulate would be impractical or too expensive.
The development in Brisbane occurs only days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed India’s worries about the attack on several Hindu temples by demonstrators calling for Khalistan during his meeting with Albanese in Delhi.
On March 11, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also condemned the anti-India and anti-Hindu activities happening in Australia and said that the country won’t tolerate any extreme actions and attacks on any religious buildings. “I gave him the assurance that Australia is a country that respects people’s faith. That we don’t tolerate the sort of extreme actions and attacks that we’ve seen on religious buildings, be they Hindu temples, mosques, synagogues, or churches. This has no place in Australia,” he had said.
“And we will take every action through our police and also our security agencies to make sure that anyone responsible for this faces the full force of the law. We’re a tolerant multicultural nation, and there is no place in Australia for this activity,” the statement further quoted him saying.
Earlier last month, after the visit of India’s foreign affairs minister S. Jaishankar, Khalistani flags were discovered affixed to the Indian embassy in Brisbane. EAM Jaishankar then talked about the matter with his Australian colleague Penny Wong during their meeting.
“Noted the forward movement on our bilateral agenda. Emphasized the need for vigilance against radical activities targeting the Indian community,” Jaishankar tweeted. Yet, on the same day, some Khalistani followers attacked two Hindu temples while they were celebrating Mahashivratri,