After receiving a rock star reception in Sydney, Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned on Wednesday that “separatist elements” should not be let to harm India-Australia relations.
Australia has dismissed concerns about India’s treatment of opponents and minorities by claiming they are domestic issues in order to get access to the world’s most populous market and the promise of a counterweight to a growing China.Modi didn’t seem to be concerned in any way.
After their meeting at Admiralty House on Sydney Harbour, the Indian leader denounced recent “attacks” on Hindu temples in Australia, which he claimed were the work of Sikh separatists.
According to Modi, who spoke to reporters, “We will not accept any elements that harm the friendly and warm ties between India and Australia by their actions or thoughts,”
In events widely covered by Indian media, anti-Modi graffiti has been painted on six temples in Australia this year, purportedly by people pushing for the establishment of a Sikh nation known as Khalistan.
Following a protracted manhunt for a firebrand separatist that mobilised thousands of Indian police and caused days of mobile internet service disruptions in Punjab state, which has a large Sikh population, protests by the Sikh diaspora broke out all over the world last month.
Despite previously denouncing the graffiti events in Australia, Albanese failed to mention them in his remarks and instead praised a new agreement that encourages the interaction of students, researchers, scientists, and businesspeople with India.
The centre-left leader described Modi’s 12,000-person rally as “a rather extraordinary event” that he had participated in the day before.
Questions concerning Albanese’s support for Modi, a nationalist leader running for reelection next year and criticised for persistent democratic regressiveness and discrimination against India’s hundreds of millions of non-Hindus, have received little attention.
When asked whether the allegations against Modi concerned him, Albanese responded, “Well, India is, of course, the world’s largest democracy.”
“Australia will always stand up for human rights, wherever it occurs anywhere in the world,” he continued.