Yashwant Raj (IANS)
An Indian-descent man has been arrested for alleged involvement in the fire-bombing of in an office building in Wisconsin in May 2022.
Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury, a 29-year-old resident of Madison, Wisconsin, was arrested at Boston’s international airport on Tuesday, according to court papers.
He is charged with one count of attempting to cause damage by means of fire or an explosive. If convicted, he faces between 5 and 20 years in prison.
It’s a rare occurrence for the Indian American community, which is considered a model minority in the US, with the highest levels of education and mean household income. There have been few, if any at all, instances of their Involvement in crime or activism-related criminal offences.
Law enforcement officials had found a slogan painted on a wall at the fire-bombing site, which could point to Roychowdhury’s motivation: “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either” and, on another wall, a large letter “A” with a circle around it and the number “1312” (which is a numerical rendition of the acronym ACAB – “All Cops Are B**tards)”, a slogan used by protestors around the world and increasingly by extreme-left activists in the US in response to police killings).
The US Justice Department said Roychowdhury was given away by DNA he had left on an unfinished burrito (a Mexican cuisine roll), which, after a laboratory test, matched DNA he had left on a lighter that was found by law enforcement personnel at the site of the fire-bombing.
“According to the complaint, Mr. Roychowdhury used an incendiary device in violation of federal law in connection with his efforts to terrorize and intimidate a private organization,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The Justice Department said on Mothers Day on May 8, 2022, law enforcement responded to a fire call at an office building in Madison, Wisconsin. Officials found two mason jars at the fire site — one with a missing screw-top lid and the other with the lid, with a piece of cloth tucked into it; it was also half-filled with a clear liquid, which could have been used as an accelerant. They also found a lighter that could have been used to set off the fire bombs.
By March 2023, investigators had come to zero in on Roychowdhury as a suspect. Local police officers in Boston picked up a leftover burrito he had thrown into a trash bin, along with related items. A lab test found a DNA match on the leftovers and the lighter.
Roychowdhury was arrested at the Boston Logan International Airport with a one-way ticket to Guatemala City.
Yashwant Raj (IANS)