ISLAMABAD, Jan 29 (APP): A large number of Australian Sikhs on Sunday stood in queues to cast their votes for the Khalistan Referendum being held at Melbourne’s Federation Square under the auspices of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).
According to media reports, Sikhs living in and around Melbourne converged on the spot to cast their votes at 7am local time with the religious Sikh prayers, conducted by the local leaders.
The eyewitnesses said that within a short period, the queues stretched to over two kilometers going past the Finders Train station to the deep town. Enthusiastic Sikh youth, men, women and elderly were seen enthusiastically forming queues while carrying banners and flags in support of their rights for the creation of Khalistan.
Sikh men arrived in jeeps, cars and coaches to take part in voting amidst the traditional playing of music and songs.
The Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) has announced voting for the Australian chapter Khalistan independence referendum at Federation Square in Melbourne on January 29.
The voting in the referendum, which started in October 2021, had so far been held in the UK, Switzerland, Italy and Canada.
During a press conference in Melbourne on Wednesday, SFJ co-founder and general counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said that the Indian government was trying to “criminalize” the attempt of Sikhs to demand a separate state.
They were calling the ‘Khalistan referendum’ illegal and an act of terrorism, he added.
According to media reports, Australia is home to nearly 209,000 Sikhs, accounting for 0.8 percent of the total population, and is the country’s fifth largest and fastest-growing religious group, according to the 2021 census.
About Khalistan, the SFJ had proposed that this would be achieved by carving out the north Indian state of Punjab, parts of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, and several districts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Australian Sikhs, along with millions of others around the world, were expected to vote on January 29 in a referendum to establish a separate Sikh state in India, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) posted on its website.
Sikhs have faced increasing discrimination in India, especially with the growth of Hindu nationalism.
In 1984, thousands died in communal violence, after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi, it added.