Cyberattack Halts Khalistan Referendum Voting in Brisbane

Estimated read time 4 min read

The Khalistan Referendum voting, which began with Sikh holy prayers at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, faced a severe setback as a massive cyber-attack targeted the electronic voting system within just 30 minutes of its commencement. The attack, allegedly orchestrated by the Indian government agencies, disrupted the entire process and raised concerns about the integrity of the referendum.

Well-Planned and Coordinated Attack

The organizers of the voting, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), a pro-Khalistan secessionist group, described the cyber-attack as well planned and highly coordinated. According to them, this was not the first time the Khalistan Referendum had been targeted. Previous attempts had been made, but the SFJ’s IT team and security experts managed to restore the system. However, this time the attack succeeded, leading to the system crash.

Accusations against Indian Government Agencies

SFJ firmly pointed fingers at Indian government agencies, accusing them of orchestrating the cyber-attack. They believe that the attack was part of a sustained campaign to disrupt the Khalistan Referendum voting, particularly in Western countries where a significant number of Sikhs have shown support for the creation of Khalistan.

Thousands Await System Restoration

As the electronic voting system crashed, thousands of people were left waiting outside the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, hoping for the system to be restored.

The dedicated online portal, designed for secure voting on the secession of India from Punjab, became inaccessible, displaying a warning message about potential information theft. This unforeseen disruption led to frustration and concerns regarding the voting process.

Security Measures Deployed

To ensure the safety of voters, dozens of policemen were stationed inside the vast hall where the voting took place.

Additionally, over 50 police personnel patrolled the surrounding streets, anticipating potential disruptions from local Hindutva groups who had announced a demonstration outside the centre. The heightened security presence aimed to mitigate any potential conflicts and maintain order during the referendum.

Qihoo360 Report Highlights Indian Cyber Mercenary Group

Qihoo360 Technology, a renowned software company based in Beijing, released a cybersecurity report shedding light on the targeting of Sikhs in India. The report claimed that a mercenary group known as “APT C-35,” allegedly operating on behalf of the Indian government, has been launching phishing websites and mobile apps to deceive pro-Khalistan Sikhs.

With approximately 30 million Sikhs in India, mostly residing in Punjab, the report underscores the ongoing phishing and spyware distribution campaign aimed at this specific religious community.

International Support Sought

In the wake of Canadian company BlackBerry’s report, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, General Counsel to SFJ, sought support for the Khalistan Referendum from Chinese authorities. Pannun stated that a Chinese security firm had also confirmed the targeting of Sikhs with religious or political inclinations, branding it as cyberterrorism under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership in India.

Tensions and International Reactions

Tensions surrounding the Khalistan Referendum have escalated, prompting significant international attention. Pro-Khalistan Sikhs recently forced the closure of India’s honorary consulate in Brisbane, leading the Australian government to issue a travel advisory cautioning citizens against visiting India due to the high risk of violence, particularly in states like Punjab. Discussions between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese highlighted concerns over alleged attacks on temples in Australia and pro-Khalistani activities.

Targeting of Sikh Community in Australia

SFJ reported targeted attacks on the Sikh community in Australia by hardline Hindutva supporters. Videos captured incidents of Khalistan banners being defaced at Sikh temples, escalating tensions and raising concerns about the safety and security of Sikhs living abroad.

Consulate Closure and Diplomatic Response

Pro-Khalistan supporters in Brisbane blocked the entry point of the Consulate of India, leading to its closure. Queensland Police confirmed the peaceful nature of the protest, while the Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, acknowledged the intrusion and halted operations. The Indian government promptly raised the issue with Australian authorities, seeking appropriate action.

This information is sourced from Geo News: Brisbane Khalistan Referendum Voting Hit by Cyber Attack

Reza Rafati

Reza Rafati, based in the Netherlands, is the founder of An industry professional providing insightful commentary on infosec, cybercrime, cyberwar, and threat intelligence, Reza dedicates his work to bolster digital defenses and promote cyber awareness.

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