Search for vandals who sprayed graffiti on Hindu temple
Mystery figure and a black car are shown on CCTV in hunt to track down vandals who sprayed graffiti on a Hindu temple calling the Indian PM a terrorist – just weeks before Narendra Modi is due in Sydney
A manhunt is underway for vandals who defaced a Hindu temple by spray painting ‘declare Modi terrorist’ ahead of the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Sydney.
Narendra Modi, 72, is due to arrive in Australia for the Quad leaders’ summit on May 24.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple at Rosehill in western Sydney was vandalised on May 5 between 1-2am.
NSW Police have now released CCTV images as part of a desperate appeal for help from the public in tracking them down.
One CCTV image is of a black vehicle last seen travelling on Virginia Street toward James Ruse Drive in the early hours of May 5.
They believe the occupants of the vehicle may have information which could assist investigators, or even possibly dashcam vision.
The second image was released of a person dressed in dark clothing, wearing a dark beanie and a face maskspotted in the vicinity of the temple about the same time.
It’s not known if the person depicted has any connection with the vehiclecaptured on CCTV.
It follows similar vandlism incidents at three Hindu temples in Melbourne and two in Brisbane.
They are thought to have been carried out by activists angry at the treatment of Sikhs in India.
The Indian High Commission warned that ‘pro-Khalistan’ elements are becoming more active in Australia.
Khalistan is the name of the breakaway Sikh state some want to form.
The High Commission in Canberra said these incidents are ‘clear attempts to sow hatred and division among the peaceful multi-faith and multicultural Indian-Australian community’.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha temple told the Sydney Morning Herald they are ‘deeply saddened by the anti-India graffiti on the temple walls’.
‘We are further disheartened that BAPS temples in Australia have been targeted for a second time,’ the statement said.
Federal Parramatta MP Andrew Charlton visited the temple to help repair the damage.
He was shocked and saddened by the ‘mindless vandalism’.
‘Everyone in Australia has the right to practice their faith in peace. The federal government will not tolerate acts of religious extremism,’ Mr Charlton told SBS.
Federal commuincations minister Michelle Rowland also condemned the attacks.
The Australian Sikh Association, Sri Guru Singh Sabha Guruduara and North Shore Sikh Association condemned the graffiti in a joint statement.
‘We are deeply shocked and saddened by this heinous act of senseless vandalism of this religious place,’ the statement said.
‘We support our Hindu brothers and sisters in this tough time and unitedly claim the right to practice our faiths in peace.’
Cumberland Police Superintendent Sheridan Waldaun hopes the community can help in tracking down those responsible.
‘We are also hopeful that the person, or the occupants of the car, will contact detectives as we believe they could have information crucial to the investigation,’ she said.
‘NSW Police works closely with members of a widely-diverse community in western Sydney, and it’s disappointing that actions such as these can cause unnecessary distress.
‘Police rely on the support of the local community to provide information so it can be investigated, but it’s important to know that information provided will be treated with the strictest confidence,’ she said.