The Queensland police has revealed that they are seeking to close the case related to the alleged vandalism at a Hindu temple in Brisbane on March 3, 2023, in response to a Right to Information Act (RTI) application. The investigation, which initially raised suspicions of Sikh involvement, has been met with uncertainty and questions surrounding the incident.
The RTI application was filed by Bhabishan Singh Goraya, who received a reply from the Queensland Police dated September 5, 2023, shedding light on the status of the case. The Queensland Police have released a total of five complete and seven partial investigation documents to Sikh activist and author B S Goraya. Goraya had alleged that Sikhs were unfairly accused of vandalism without proper inquiry. The incident occurred at the Hindu Temple located at 45 Daymer Street, Burbank, Queensland 4156.
Graffiti was written on the walls of Shree Laxmi Narayan Temple temple in Brisbane in March, in what was the fourth incident of vandalism targeting Hindu temples in Australia. Several news sites reported the incident as having been perpetrated by pro-Khalistan Sikhs and ‘supporters of the Indian political party Indian National Congress.’
“Temple priest and devotees called this morning and notified me about the vandalism on the boundary wall of our temple,” temple president Satinder Shukla was quoted as saying by The Australia Today website, which ran the news under the headline Shree Laxmi Narayan Temple vandalised by Khalistan supporters in Brisbane. A number of Indian news sites ran the story quoting The Australia Today.
According to the RTI reply, the investigation encountered significant hurdles, primarily due to the non-functioning of CCTV cameras at the temple during the time of the incident. The report indicates that there were 27 CCTV cameras installed at the temple, and an additional three were added later, totaling 30 CCTV cameras.
The police report raises a crucial question, stating, “it is unknown whether this is a result of the installation, or whether it was purposely shut down for the purpose of facilitating this offence. Inquiries are continuing with other PIN code holders. It is possible the CCTV cameras were purposely shut off.”
Furthermore, the report suggests that intelligence officers entertained an alternative theory, speculating that the graffiti may have been carried out by individuals within the Hindu community itself. The intention behind such an act, according to the report, could have been to draw police attention toward the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) group, thereby implicating them in the vandalism.
Australia’s Queensland State Police disclosed investigation documents, indicating their readiness to close the matter due to a lack of leads and suspects. The investigators also proposed a theory that the temple’s own Hindu community might have defaced the temple after deliberately disabling the key CCTV cameras. Additionally, they suggested that a serial offender who had previously engaged in similar acts in Victoria might have infiltrated the Brisbane Sikh rally on March 4.
The investigation took an interesting turn when it was discovered that similar incidents of vandalism had occurred at other Australian temples, including Melbourne and Karrum Downs (Victoria), around the same time. Intriguingly, these acts of vandalism coincided with Sikh political rallies held in Melbourne on January 29 and Brisbane on March 2, 2023.
The police report highlighted the absence of suspects and witnesses in the case. It also mentioned that the complainants, presumably the temple management, had been unable to provide any CCTV footage. Additionally, the report suggested that someone unconnected to the temple might have been involved to foment discord between the Hindu and Sikh communities.
An important detail brought to light was that while the temple management claimed to have discovered the graffiti on the morning following the incident, video footage of the vandalism had been uploaded to social media on the same night, before 10 PM. This raised questions about whether the temple management had prior knowledge of the incident.
The report briefly mentioned a separate incident on July 3, 2023, when a fire occurred at the Indian Consulate in San Francisco. Notably, the fire brigade had initially suspected the consulate staff’s involvement in the fire.
Concerns were also raised about interference from the Indian consulate, which had advised the temple to install CCTV cameras. Some viewed this advisory as unwarranted interference in Australian administration.
The press release and report revealed a broader context of tensions and suspicions involving the Sikh community, especially regarding allegations of vandalism and political activities. It referenced a previous incident involving a student named Vishal Jood, who had been imprisoned and later deported from Australia for an attack on Sikhs. Upon his return to India, Jood received a warm welcome and support from certain Indian officials, sparking allegations of support for hate against Sikhs.
The Queensland police’s decision to close the vandalism case at the Brisbane Hindu temple has raised questions about the incident’s true nature and those responsible. The lack of concrete evidence and the presence of multiple theories have left the matter unresolved, with lingering concerns about the implications for the Sikh community and potential interference from external entities.
As the debate continues, it remains to be seen whether further developments will provide greater clarity and closure in this puzzling case. Copies of the police response to the RTI can be found on Jindaginama.com for comprehensive details of the investigation.
Microblogging handle ‘Tracking Hate Against Sikhs’ has, in a thread titled “Decoding dirty ‘mafia’ of Sikh haters, Right Ring extremists & BJP, and how they work in tandem to defame Sikhs in India & abroad”, made a compilation of how the news about a series of incidents involving graffiti on the walls and acts of vandalism targeting Hindu temples were reported by various news sites in Australia and India.