Ambassador Sandhu: “Tell the US government they should be responsible”

Ritu Jha-

The envoy was responding to questions about the Indian government’s response to an atmosphere of fear those of Indian origin

Anti-India sentiment and the resulting fear associated with it was a central theme at a community event hosted in honor of Indian Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu, August 18 in Livermore, California. Those attending included hundreds of people from academia, the Sikh community, successful farmers, tech czars, and community leaders.

Sham Goyal,[Above left with Ambassador Sandhu]] a retired U C Davis professor, brought up the worrisome issue and asked how the Indian government could help.

Goyal told indica at the event that he discussed the matter with the ambassador, and sought that the Indian government help them to deal with the problem.

“The entire India lobby is flourishing and they [those against Indians] are congregating in our area. The fact is they have torn down the Gandhi statue – for which we have evidence,” Goyal said, alluding to the statue his group had installed four years ago and which was desecrated last year on Jan 26, 2021.

Goyal believes the damage was done by Khalistan supporters though investigations are still in progress.

“The Indian government can help us if [they at least] confiscate their visas to India. Then these people cannot go to India,” Goyal told indica. He added such steps were required to let the anti-India lobby know there would be consequences for their actions.

Asked what the ambassador replied, Goyal said, “In response, he said, ‘Aise log hai, to naam dijiye [If there are such people, provide their names].’ I told him I would give their names, and that I will write to him.”

A successful farmer from Fresno who was at the event but didn’t want to be named for fear of being attacked, said, “We are planning to host a meeting with the ambassador on [this issue].”

In 2015, the state of California was the first to acknowledge the riots against the Sikh in India in 1984 as a genocide. The groups that backed that proposal are now accused of fear among Indians who support India or Gandhi.

Nirmal Chandi, a businessman from Bakersfield, said he is aware of the issue and they were lucky to celebrate India at 75 without incident.

“We try to ignore them and we do not want to fight,” Chandi said. “We love every flag but this is our national flag.”

Chandi, who came to the US in 1997, said that after the tragedy the Sikhs faced back home, those that settled in the U.S. may not gain if they talk negatively all the time about India. He cited the case of the damage done to the Gandhi statue in Davis as an example of how things get out of hand.

“I don’t know when FBI… will find out who the people were,” Goyal said.

Last week Sudarshan Kapoor, emeritus professor at Fresno State and a peace activist, told indica he has stopped celebrating Independence Day after the city of Fresno passed the resolution in 2016, when the number and intensity of threats, and increasing fears of violence got the community to reconsider celebrating the occasion.

“They create fear,” Goyal said.

When indica asked Ambassador Sandhu to address the issue of fear in the community on behalf of the Indian government, he grew very agitated even before the question could be completed.

“You don’t want to talk about substantial (US-India) relationships, you don’t want to talk about the community, and children. I am at a community event.”

It was pointed out that the worry was expressed by members of the community who feared they could not safely wave their flag and so sought a champion in the form of the Indian government.

Still angry, the ambassador responded, “Tell the US government they should be responsible.”

Learning about the exchange, Goyal told indica, “They cannot help locally, but they can talk with the State Department.”

Kapoor told indica that his group had the issue of anti-India elements flourishing and about the desecration of Gandhi statues.

“I gave the article to Shri Rajnath Singhji, our defense minister, during his recent visit to the Bay Area,” Kapoor said in April.

That article, signed by the advocates for peace and social justice at the World House Project, spoke not just about the desecration of Gandhi’s statue in San Francisco but also about similar incidents of vandalism that have taken place in New York; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Melbourne, Australia; and Davis, California.