US Condemns Arson Attempt Targeting Indian Consulate in San Francisco
4 July, 2023 | Anupam Shrivastava
Khalistan supporters have frequently protested outside the Indian embassy and the San Francisco Indian consulate, although no one has been arrested or otherwise penalised as of yet.
On Sunday (local time), the US expressed strong condemnation of the reported acts of vandalism and attempted arson against the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, allegedly carried out by pro-Khalistan supporters.
“The US strongly condemns the reported vandalism and attempted arson against the Indian Consulate in San Francisco on Saturday. Vandalism or violence against diplomatic facilities or foreign diplomats in the US is a criminal offence,” Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the US State Department announced on Twitter.
As per the reports, a group of Khalistan radicals attempted arson targeting the Indian Consulate in San Francisco at around 1:40 AM on Sunday.
Sources, confirming the authenticity of a video, informed that the San Francisco Fire Department promptly extinguished the fire during the incident. Describing the attack as a “terror act,” an official assured that there were no significant damages or injuries to the Indian consulate staff.
After the incident, the local San Francisco police department was swiftly notified, along with specialised diplomatic security staff, as well as state and federal authorities, and an immediate inquiry into the situation was launched.
Furthermore, a poster allegedly circulated by Sikh extremists has targeted Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, and Dr. TV Nagendra Prasad, Consul General of the Indian Consulate in San Francisco. The poster accuses them of involvement in the June assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force and a designated terrorist, in Canada.
India asks partner countries reject violent Khalistani ideology
Meanwhile, India has asked partner countries including Canada, the UK, and Australia to reject the violent extremist ideology of the Khalistanis, according to External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar, who made the announcement on Monday.
Answering about the names of Indian diplomats that appeared in the Khalistani posters, Jaishankar said, “We have requested our partner countries, like Canada, UK, Australia, US that they should not give space to these Khalistanis. These radical extremist ideologies aren’t good for us, them, or our ties. Will raise the issue of these posters.”
Indian Consulate in San Francisco has suffered attacks in the past
The San Francisco consulate has experienced attacks in the past as well. In March, several protesters who were waving pro-Khalistan signs tore down the temporary security barriers put up by the San Francisco city police and placed two so-called Khalistani flags inside the Indian Consulate’s grounds. Soon after, two consular employees took down these banners.
While expressing its condemnation for the violent events that occurred during demonstrations at Indian diplomatic missions in the US, the US government also stated that violence or the threat of violence is never an acceptable form of protest and is of “grave concern.”
The US Department of State’s response followed threats made by pro-Khalistan supporters in the US towards the Indian embassy and Indian Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu during a separate protest held outside the Indian mission in Washington.
Rallying outside the mission, a protester directly threatened the ambassador, saying that the “hypocrisy” would stop and that the ambassador might suffer the same fate as former Indian president Zail Singh in 1994.
“Violence or the threat of violence against diplomatic facilities and personnel in the United States is a grave concern and will not be tolerated,” a spokesperson from US Department of State told the media.
Khalistan supporters have frequently protested outside the Indian embassy and the San Francisco Indian consulate, although no one has been arrested or otherwise penalised as of yet. The radical Sikh group also intends to hold a protest on July 8 in front of Indian embassies in the US.