Videos have surfaced of the horrifying moment violence broke out between two large Indian groups on the streets of Melbourne’s CBD.
In a series of clips, over 100 people can be seen turning on one another outside Federation Square on Sunday afternoon, using sticks and flagpoles as weapons, while others flee from the scene.
One shot shows a number of men attacking a man on the floor as he tries to escape, while other footage shows police with batons trying to control the crowd.
Police arrest two protesters
On Monday morning police told Yahoo News Australia they’d been “in attendance” at a Khalistan Referendum event, a vote on the creation of an independent Sikh state, when two “scuffles broke out" with pro-India supporters opposing the creation of a new Sikh state. The first occurred at 12.45pm with the second at about 4.30pm.
“In both incidents police quickly responded to separate and disperse the crowd,” the statement read, “with police deploying OC spray during the second incident to separate the fighting men.”
Police went on to confirm that they arrested two people in the brawls.
“As a result of each incident, a 34-year-old man and a 39-year-old man were arrested and each was issued with a penalty notice for riotous behaviour,” they said.
The Melbourne East Neighbourhood Policing Team is continuing to investigate after it was identified that two men were injured, one with a laceration to his head and another with a hand injury. Police say the pair were treated at the scene by ambulance paramedics for what was believed to be minor injuries. They’re now calling on anyone who witnessed the incidents, or has information, to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
It’s believed the violence began when a group of pro-India supporters, waving national flags, arrived at the voting site in Federation Square, clashing with Sikh separatists.
The non-binding referendum had put the question to Indians on whether they supported a proposed new state. As part of the proposal, which had been put forward by the US-based group Sikhs For Justice, Khalistan would take in the Punjab regions of northern India and Pakistan, as well as parts of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.
The melee in Melbourne came after three Hindu temples in the city were defaced with anti-India graffiti. Translated the words read, “long live the Sikh homeland,” and “down with India,” SBS reported.
At the time, the High Commission of India in Australia strongly condemned what is said were “deeply disturbing incidents of vandalisation.”
“These incidents are clear attempts to sow hatred and division among the peaceful multi-faith and multicultural Indian-Australian community,” it said in a statement.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.