A prominent Hindu temple in Sydney was defaced allegedly by pro-Khalistani elements on Friday with anti-India graffiti on the walls, in the latest incident of vandalism against Hindu temples in Australia ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the country later this month. The incident took place at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Rosehill, Sydney.
Temple authorities also found a Khalistani flag hanging on the gate, and reported the matter to New South Wales (NSW) police, the Australia Today newspaper reported. "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," the temple said in a statement.
"We are further disheartened that BAPS temples in Australia have been targeted. 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," it said.
Member of Parliament for Parramatta Andrew Charlton reached the BAPS Temple as soon as he was informed of the Hindu Hate incident, the Australia Today newspaper reported. Charlton along with Temple authorities helped to repaint the wall.
“This morning, the BAPS temple in my electorate of Parramatta was vandalised by religious extremists. I am deeply shocked and saddened by this act of mindless vandalism. Everyone in Australia has the right to practice their faith in peace,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
"At this time, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha prays for peace and unity and has appealed to all devotees and well-wishers in the community to maintain peace. We are thankful to the local police command, the Department of Home Affairs, State and Federal Members of Parliament, the Indian High Commission and the Consul General of Sydney for their continued support," the temple said.
"BAPS temples across Australia are symbols of a thriving multicultural society that nurture Australian values of respect, mateship and tolerance. We request everyone to join in worldwide prayers that God blesses and guides us all to continue to do good and think good of all," it said.
“Officers from Cumberland Police Area Command have commenced an investigation following reports of malicious damage to a religious site in Rosehill," NSW Police spokesperson said in a statement. “Police are conducting inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident." Earlier this year three Hindu Temples in Melbourne and two Hindu Temples in Brisbane were vandalised by Khalistan supporters.
Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to visit Sydney for the QUAD summit on May 24. In March, During Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's visit to India, Prime Minister Modi raised the issue of frequent attacks on Hindu Temples with him and conveyed his concerns. On this, Albanese assured Modi that Australia will not tolerate attacks on religious places and that anyone responsible for such activities will face the "full force of the law".