FBI joins San Francisco consulate arson and vandalism investigation

Ritu Jha–

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), and the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) have joined hands to investigate the July 2 arson incident at the Indian Consulate in San Francisco.

The FBI San Francisco spokesperson confirmed to indica through over email: “The FBI San Francisco Division is aware of the incident, and we are working with The Diplomatic Security Service which is the lead investigative agency.” The spokesperson added that the FBI is also collaborating with SFPD on the investigation.

An SFPD spokesperson told indica that at approximately 2:03 am on July 2, SFPD officers assigned to Richmond Station responded to the 500 block of Arguello Blvd for a fire investigation. “SFFD personnel were on the scene and extinguished the fire. There have been no arrests at this time,” Niccole Pacchetti told indica. “This remains an active and ongoing investigation.”

Pacchetti did not confirm how many people were present at the consulate when the fire incident took place. However, she said, SFPD has issued an advisory stating, “Anyone with information is asked to contact the SFPD
at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD. You may remain anonymous.”

The Diplomatic Security Service based in San Francisco did not comment, and asked indica to reach the Department of State in Washington DC. When indica reached out to the State Department, its spokesperson issued this statement: “The Diplomatic Security Service is closely coordinating with federal and local law enforcement to investigate the reported vandalism and arson. Throughout the investigation the Department has been in close communication with the Indian government. We reiterate our firm commitment to the security and safety of these diplomatic facilities as well as the diplomats who work in them.”

It added, “Consistent with our obligations under the Vienna Conventions, the Department is taking all appropriate steps, including coordination with federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities, to protect the safety and security of the Indian Embassy and Consulates and the individuals who work within them.”

Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, tweeted: The U.S. 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 U.S. is a criminal offense.”

On March 19, a large pro-Khalistani group protested outside the San Francisco consulate general building and shattered windows and attacked consulate employees, some of whom sustained injuries.

San Francisco Consul General Dr TV Nagendra Prasad said that it was a shocking act of violence and that it was unacceptable. Prasad said there was no major damage, but pro-Khalistani group managed to set fire to the doormat. They also painted pro-Khalistan graffiti on the consulate wall.

“Our security camera footage shows there were only two people,” Dr Nagendra Prasad said. “They came and set fire. They were cowards.”

This is the second time in six months that the Consulate General of San Francisco has been attacked by pro-Khalistani groups.

Upset with the attack and allegations that it’s an act of
pro-Khalistan, Sikh Gurdwara San Jose President Bob Dhillon told indica “It took years of effort to erase that Sikhs are not terrorists and the Indian government, I think, is trying to prove it again that Sikhs are terrorist and they are manipulating these kinds of events.”

Dhillion told indica, “It makes us sad. We are celebrating 4th of July, and proving to our neighbors that we are just as good Americans as they are. When we see news like this that we attacked the Indian consulate office, it makes us sad and angry.”

Dhillon said he is not convinced that the arson and vandalism was done by pro-Khalistan groups. He said he has not yet spoken to the consul general, but after the March 19 incident, he had spoken with the US State and Justice departments.

According to the consul general, the faces of the vandals were not clear in the security footage. However, Dhillon asked why no arrests have been made so many months after the March 19 incident when everything was caught on security cameras.

“Again, I’d say Sikh community is not behind this,” Dhillon
reiterated. Has anybody been arrested? That is a shame, too.”

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