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Impact: India raises concerns with Australia over ADF officers attending event alongside Khalistan supporters

Australian Defence Force had earlier said that Defence regrets any distress that accidental associations might have caused the Indian diaspora in Australia.

By Jai Bharadwaj, Pallavi Jain and Amit Sarwal

India has raised the issue of Australian Defence personnel attending an event which had Khalistani flags, banners and hoardings, with Australia.

The Australia Today, in an exclusive report, had earlier reported that ADF personnel were present alongside Khalistani separatists at the recently held Sikh Games in Griffith, NSW.

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Members of the Indian Australian community were left disturbed and upset to see the Australian Defence Force Marquee at the event where Khalistani banners and posters were displayed.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said regarding reports of Australian Defence personnel attending an event alongside Khalistani separatists,

“We specifically got to know about an incident in Australia. We have raised this issue with the Government of Australia…we have taken this up with the Australian Government…there was something related to a few of their soldiers, talks are going on on the issue.”

The Australia Today had reached out to the ADF regarding this issue that had left members of the Indian-Australian community distressed and traumatised.

Griffith Sikh Games 2022; Image Source: Facebook
Griffith Sikh Games 2022; Image Source: Facebook

A Defence spokesperson said with regards to this matter:

“A small group of Australian Defence Force members attended the Sikh Games in Griffith, NSW, over the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend. Attendance was not in any official capacity and there was no formal invitation to Defence to participate.”

Griffith Sikh Games 2022; Image Source: Facebook
Griffith Sikh Games 2022; Image Source: Facebook

“The Australian Defence Force is an apolitical organisation and Defence members are expected to remain impartial. The Defence members had no prior awareness of other organisations attending this important community event which promotes traditional Indian culture and sport.”

Griffith Sikh Games 2022; Image Source: Facebook
Griffith Sikh Games 2022; Image Source: Facebook

The Defence spokesperson further added,

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“The ADF personnel who attended the Sikh Games in Griffith did so with good intentions. The ADF personnel are proud of both their service and their culture and saw an opportunity to engage positively with the Sikh community.” 

“They had no prior knowledge of other groups attending the event, including political or separatist movements. The attendance of ADF personnel at this event in no way endorses any other group or organisation who may have also been in attendance.”

Griffith Sikh Games 2022; Image Source: Facebook
Griffith Sikh Games 2022; Image Source: Facebook

A Defence spokesperson also said,

“Defence regrets any distress that accidental associations might have caused the Indian diaspora in Australia.”

Griffith Sikh Games 2022; Image Source: Facebook
Griffith Sikh Games 2022; Image Source: Facebook

The Australia Today also reached out to the organisers of the Sikh games in Griffith but has not yet received a response.

The Australia Today would like to categorically state that we in no manner suggest that the ADF personnel who attended the Sikh Games in Griffith support or endorse matters associated with the ‘Khalistan’ separatist movement.

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