Over 31,000 Sikhs voted for Khalistan Referendum in Sydney amid stiff resistance from the Indian government and Indian PM Modi’s personal campaign to stop Sikhs from holding the third phase of the referendum in Australia. The Sydney phase of the Khalistan Referendum was organized to mark the anniversary of the 1984 Operation Blue Star Amritsar Genocide when Indian authorities killed thousands of Sikhs during a bloodied attack on Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple). Two weeks before the Khalistan Referendum voting in Sydney, PM Modi was in Australia where he met the Australian government authorities and urged them to stop Sikhs from going ahead with voting but the Australian government told Modi that the whole of Canberra respected India’s position it was no in position to stop its citizens from expressing their legal and democratic right.
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) had booked Khalistan Referendum voting at four different venues but all venues ended up canceling it citing security and organizational issues as Hindutva groups, backed by India, raised false alarms of potential violence between Sikh and Hindutva groups. Large-sized banners and posters hung outside the venue carrying slogans: “Khalistan Referendum Australia, Shimla Capital secession of Punjab from India”; “1984 Sikh Genocide, 100+ Sikhs burnt alive in furnaces by India’s Hindu mobs”; “Khalistan Referendum, the last battle to liberate Punjab”; “Khalistan Referendum – Punjab – Shimla Capital”. Sikhs for Justice, General Counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said, “Sydney Khalistan Referendum voting is a prodigious journey of Sikh sovereigntists from June 1984 while defending Sri Akal Takht Sahib with ‘bombs-bullets’ to ‘ballot-voting’ in 2023 to liberate Punjab from Indian occupation.” Pannu said, Sydney turnout was a reflection of an extraordinarily growing global support for the liberation of Punjab from Indian occupation. Dr Bakhshish Singh Sandhu, President Council of Khalistan said: “Sikhs in their thousands in Sydney have sent a clear message that they want liberation of Punjab from the Indian occupation, in the same way Hindus got freedom from the British Raj. We are under occupation of India and the only solution is liberation. We will liberate Punjab to save Punjab from India, to preserve our values, religion and culture. Tens of thousands of Sikhs have taken part in the Khalistan Referendum all over the world to express their democratic right in a peaceful manner.” According to the 2021 census, around 230,000 Sikhs live in Australia but local Sikhs say the real number is close to 300,000. The number of Sikhs in Australia was 130,000 in 2016. According to the census of 2021, the number of Hindus in Australia stood at around 700,000. The highest number of Sikhs live in Melbourne, followed by Sydney and Brisbane.The Referendum’s voting in Sydney was the third phase of the Australian campaign. The first phase was held in Melbourne in January when over 50,000 Sikhs turned out to cast their votes. The second phase was held in Brisbane in March where more than 11,000 Sikhs had voted. Throughout this period, Indian government campaigned to foil the voting using diplomatic pressure but failed.