Sikhs angered by torching of temple in Australia
By Ravi Matah
NEW DELHI – A fire suspected of being set with Molotov cocktails inside a Sikh temple under construction in a Melbourne suburb has caused outrage in India.
Someone using an accelerant started the fire that caused major damage at Nanaksar Taath Temple in Cranbourne.
India said it was in contact with Australia over the incident that has outraged Sikh in Melbourne and their religious counterparts in India’s Punjab State.
“Our consulate in Melbourne is in the process of ascertaining details from the Gurdwara Management Committee and also following up on the incident with Australian authorities,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said.
Photos carried in Australian papers showed the structure was badly charred by the fire. One newspaper said Sikhs suspect Molotov cocktails made from gasoline were used to torch the temple building which was under construction.
The temple attack is likely to be viewed as further evidence of racism in Australia towards Indians and their community buildings.
Tensions between India and Australia have run high over a number of physical attacks and even murder of Indian students in Australia, mostly in and around Melbourne.
India issued a travel advisory to students in Australia telling them to take great care about their security.
The first-ever attack on a Gurdwara (Temple) in Australia has triggered condemnation from Sikhs in that country and in India.
In Punjab, where most Sikhs live, the state’s chief minister, Prakash Singh Badal, fumed at the torching of the temple.
Badal said on Wednesday he had taken up the matter with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is a fellow Sikh. Badal also referred to the arson fire as part of the pattern of “racial discrimination” against Australia’s Indian minority.
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