India condemns attack on Indian journalist by pro-Khalistanis in Washington
26 March, 2023 | Pragati Singh
The journalist was first verbally intimidated, then physically assaulted, and fearing for his personal safety and well-being
The Indian embassy in the United States condemned the attack on a Washington, DC-based Indian journalist by Khalistan supporters in a statement issued on Saturday.
“We condemn such a grave and unwarranted attack on a senior journalist. Such activities only underscore the violent and anti-social tendencies of the so-called ‘Khalistani protestors’ and their supporters, who routinely engage in wanton violence and vandalism,” the statement from the Indian embassy said. Washington DC-based Indian journalist Lalit Jha was physically attacked and verbally abused by pro-Khalistan supporters while he was covering a pro-Khalistan protest outside the Indian Embassy on Saturday afternoon.
“We have seen disturbing visuals of a senior Indian journalist from the Press Trust of India being abused, threatened & assaulted physically while covering so-called ‘Khalistan protest’ in Washington DC earlier today,” the Indian embassy in US said in a press release by Saturday.
The statement said, “We understand that the journalist was first verbally intimidated, then physically assaulted, and fearing for his personal safety and well-being, had to call in law enforcement agencies, who responded promptly.”
In their statement, the Indian embassy also thanked law enforcement agencies for their prompt response in the matter. Jha thanked the US Secret Service on Sunday for protecting him and assisting him in his work. He claimed that pro-Khalistan supporters hit him on the left ear with two sticks. On his Twitter account, he also posted a video of Khalistani supporters.
“Thank you @SecretService 4 my protection 2day 4 helping do my job, otherwise I would have been writing this from the hospital. The gentleman below hit my left ear with these 2 sticks & earlier I had to call 9/11 & rushed 2 police van 4 safety fearing physical assault,” Jha tweeted on Sunday.
Condemning the attack on the Indian journalist Lalit Jha, the statement from the Indian embassy further said, “We condemn such a grave and unwarranted attack on a senior journalist. Such activities only underscore the violent and anti-social tendencies of the so-called ‘Khalistani protestors’ and their supporters, who routinely engage in wanton violence and vandalism.” “At one point I felt so threatened that I called 911. I then spotted Secret Service officers and narrated the incident to them,” Jha told ANI.
However, the journalist decided not to pursue those who heckled him.
“The pro-Khalistan protestors in support of Amritpal Singh waved Khalistan flags and descended upon the embassy in the presence of the US Secret Service. They even openly threatened to vandalise the embassy and threatened the Indian Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu,” Jha told ANI.
Pro-Khalistan slogans were shouted by turbaned men of all ages among the protesters. They came from various parts of the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) region. The organisers used microphones to deliver anti-India speeches in both English and Punjabi, and they specifically targeted the Punjab Police for alleged human rights violations.
Protests by Khalistan supporters have taken place outside the Indian embassy and the San Francisco Consulate. On March 20, the Indian Consulate in San Francisco was also attacked. Images circulated online show a large mob wielding Khalistan flags mounted on wooden poles and smashing glass doors and windows of the consulate building. They chanted pro-Khalistan slogans as they broke through the city police’s makeshift security barriers and placed two Khalistan flags inside the premises.
The attack on the Indian consulate in San Francisco by a group of separatist Sikhs was strongly condemned by the US, who called it “absolutely unacceptable.” The US has condemned the attack on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, as well as any other attack on diplomatic facilities within the US. The United States has pledged to defend the safety and security of these facilities, as well as the diplomats who work there.
“The United States condemns the attack against the Indian Consulate and any attack against diplomatic facilities within the United States. We pledge to defend the safety and security of these facilities as well as the diplomats who work within them,” US State Department spokesperson told ANI.
The United States, according to US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, condemns the attacks on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco. He also stated that the United States is committed to the safety and security of Indian diplomats.