Over 55,000 Sikhs vote for Khalistan Referendum in Australia
More than 55,000 Sikhs voted for Khalistan Referendum as a strong show of defiance against the Indian government’s attempts to stop local Sikhs from using the democratic voting system to raise demand for the creation of Khalistan in Indian Punjab.
Independent observers and the organising group Sikhs For Justice said that between 55,000 and 60,000 Sikhs had voted by the time the doors were closed by the centre’s management and the Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC). Outside, there was still a long line that went from the voting centre to the Flinders Street station.
Over 55,000 Sikh men and women over the age of 18 were eligible to vote, but about 15,000 people were not able to vote because there wasn’t enough time.
People in line crashed the entrance gate and rushed to the voting hall in the last 10 minutes to cast their votes. This caused a stampede. Thousands more waited outside in lines to get in, but the PRC members stopped them because they were not allowed to give people more time to vote.
Gurminder Singh, a local Sikh leader, told the people waiting outside that they will be able to vote for their home country of Khalistan on a different date that will be announced in due time. He was sorry that so many people had to be turned away because voting ended at 5 p.m.
The pro-Khalistan group SFJ is running the Khalistan Referendum campaign all over the world. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who is the counsel general of SFJ, was happy to see so many people in Federation Square in Melbourne.
“The first round of Khalistan Referendum voting in Melbourne showed that Sikhs are for Khalistan and will continue the peaceful and democratic process under the UN Charter to free Punjab from Indian rule.
“Khalistan is the only way out because every Indian government from Indira Gandhi to Narendra Modi has killed Sikhs without being punished,” Pannun said.
He also said, “After seeing that Sikh people support Khalistan, it is inevitable that Punjab will be freed from Indian occupation, and we agree with Modi that India should be a Hindu country and that the BJP-RSS should continue with their Hindutva agenda.”
The Melbourne Khalistan Referendum voting centre was named after the men who killed former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Their names were Shaheed Bhai Satwant Singh and Shaheed Bhai Kehar Singh.
Voting started at 8 a.m. local time, but a lot of people started coming to the centre as early as 7 a.m. Thousands of Sikhs lined up in Melbourne’s Federation Square to vote at the large arts centre for the Khalistan Referendum.
Within an hour, the line went from the Flinders Train Station to the deep town, which is about two kilometres away. Young and old Sikh men, women, and children lined up with Khalistan banners and flags. They shouted Khalistan Zindabad, Ban Kay Rehay Ga Khalistan, and Hindutva Namanzoor (Hindutva Unacceptable).
Large banners with the words “Khalistan Referendum, Punjab, Shimla Capital” and “Khalistan Referendum, Secession of Punjab from India” hung at the entrance of the centre.
Men from the Sikh faith came to vote in jeeps, cars, and coaches. Outside the venue, a group of dhol players played traditional Punjabi dhol, sang Sangat songs, and chanted slogans for the people who died during Operation Blue Star in 1984 and for the freedom of Punjab.
So far, people have voted in the referendum in Switzerland, Italy, and two Canadian cities. Voting began in October 2021 in seven cities in the UK.
Inside the voting centre on Sunday, more than three dozen members of the Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC), an independent group in charge of overseeing the voting in the global Khalistan Referendum, are guiding Sikh voters on how to vote on the question “Should Indian-governed Punjab be an independent country?” with two answers, “Yes” and “No.”
Australia has about 210,000 Sikhs, according to the 2021 census, but local Sikhs say the real number is closer to 300,000. In 2016, there were 130,000 Sikhs in Australia. According to the 2021 census, there were about 700,000 Hindus in Australia.