11,000 Sikhs vote for Khalistan in Brisbane amid India’s cyber attack

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA    -    More than 11,000 Sikhs took part in the second phase of Khalistan Referendum voting at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre amid a mas­sive wave of Indian cyber se­curity mercenary attack on the electronic voting machines. 

There was disruption in the voting thrice as the electron­ic online voting system came under a massive cyber securi­ty attack by the suspected In­dian hackers. The first attack was launched – and the system shut down – within 30 minutes of the start of the voting. The system was restored within 30 minutes. For the second and third cyber-attacks, the system was restored within 20 min­utes each time. 

Pro-Khalistan secessionist group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), which organised the referen­dum voting, said it suspected that the Indian state-backed hackers were involved in the planned attack. The SFJ said this was not the first time that the Indian state had done so as similar attempts have been made during previous vot­ing phases across Europe. It said there was evidence avail­able that the Indian govt was involved in cyber-attacks against the Sikhs. Large ban­ners in support of Khalistan and Sikhs rights hung outside the Exhibition centre read­ing “Khalistan Referendum, Punjab, Shimla Capital” and “Khalistan Referendum, Se­cession of Punjab from India”.

The SFJ had organised the second phase of referendum in the Australian city of Brisbane after the first phase of voting in Melbourne at the end of Janu­ary this year which saw a mas­sive turnout of over 50,000 Sikhs. The third phase and last leg of the Australian phase is set to take place in Sydney in June this year. The SFJ has or­ganised the voting under the supervision of Punjab Refer­endum Commission (PRC) vot­ing on the Question of “Should Indian Governed Punjab Be An Independent Country?”

The SFJ’s General Counsel and New York based attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said that Australian Sikhs have re­sponded robustly to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Mo­di’s efforts to stop Khalistan Referendum voting in Austra­lian cities. Pannun comment­ed: “The global Khalistan Ref­erendum voting is setting the countdown for the final battle for liberation of Punjab from the Indian occupation.”

Dr Bakhshish Singh Sand­hu, President Council of Khalistan, said that in one af­ter another city in the West, Sikhs were coming out in their thousands to cast their votes to express their desire for the creation of an independent state of Khalistan for Sikhs.

The voting in the referendum, which started in October 2021 in the UK’s seven cities, has so far been held also in Switzer­land, Italy and two Canadian centres.

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 130000 in 2016. According to the census of 2021, the num­ber of Hindus in Australia stood at around 700000. The highest number of Sikhs live in Melbourne, followed by Sydney and Brisbane.

Prior to Sunday’s voting, there were tensions as dozens of pro-Khalistan Sikhs round­ed up and forced closure of India’s honorary consulate in Brisbane and the Australian government issued an updat­ed travel advisory advising its citizens against travelling to India due to a “high risk of vi­olence” in certain states, in­cluding Punjab.

Few days before the March 19 voting organized by SFJ, Indian External Affairs Min­istry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that Prime Minis­ter Narendra Modi had raised with his Australian counter­part Anthony Albanese the re­cent alleged incidents of at­tacks on temples in Australia as well as pro-Khalistani ac­tivities in that country.

It’s understood that the In­dian PM Modi raised the issue with the Australian govt after over 50,000 Sikhs turned up to vote for Khalistan Referen­dum in Melbourne for the first phase of Referendum at the end of January this year. It’s under­stood that the Indian govern­ment is not happy with the re­cent Australian travel advisory cautioning its Citizens planning a trip to India to exercise a high degree of caution.

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