Hindus on receiving end after Sydney temple attacks

The most violent incident took place last month, when the Sri Mandir was showered with bullets.

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NSW Police are investigating the attacks, but don’t believe they’re linked to any racial tensions.

Jatinkumar Bhatt leads a Hindu temple that’s under siege.

It’s been in suburban Auburn for more than 30 years, and now Mr Bhatt and his followers are gripped with fear.

Bhatt says up to eight bullets were fired on the door and building.

The attacks began in 2001, when bottles were thrown at the building. A bullet was fired at a window two years later, and in 2007, money was stolen after a break-in. Last year, six or seven people surrounded their home, yelling obscenities.

Even the temple’s worshippers have come under attack – the reason a protection screen has been installed.

“Because a lot of the time, people are going to the car and they are standing over there and are bottling and egging on the temple.”, Bhatt says.

In one incident last November, a young family is praying inside, when the windows are smashed by vandals, with shards of glass narrowly missing their child.

The editor of the ‘The India’ Rohit Revo, suspects it’s not only the attackers want the temple gone.

“If you look at the intensity and the type of attacks which have been happening at the temple, I think there is someone else, other than these teenagers and hoodlums who are trying to get these devotees scared, and possibly even want to get this temple driven out of this area.

But the NSW government says it should never come to that.

I think it will be a very sad day for Australia if any place of worship has to shut down and move because some people have decided either through sheer criminality or for some other agenda to instill fear in the people who worship there.”, Stephen Kerkyasharian of the NSW Community Relations Commission says.

Muslim community leader Keysar Trad spoke at the Temple’s recent open day, and doubts the attacks are racially motivated.

“This is a law and order issue, it is not a cultural or religious issue, it is strictly law and order”, Trad says.

Muslims and Hindus and Christians in the south-west have been friends for many years.

NSW Police insist they’re doing all they can to address the attacks, and are also convinced they’re not race-related.

Assistant Commissioner Frank Menelli says patrols have increased in the area.

“We’ve also held a number of security forums where we’ve looked at how we can increase the security, not only within the temple, but in the general area”, he says.

“There’s no evidence to suggest that the Hindu community has been targeted in Auburn. There has been a general increase in activity of anti-social activity in that area.”

But the Hindu priest and his supporters aren’t so sure. They’ve been on the receiving end for years, and say they can’t worship in peace until those behind the attacks are caught.