US condemns Khalistani vandalism and arson at San Francisco consulate

Reena Bhardwaj (ANI)–

The US has strongly condemned the reported vandalism and attempted arson by pro-Khalistan supporters against the Indian Consulate in San Francisco on Sunday (local time).

“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 offense,” US state department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a tweet on Monday.

Around 1:40 AM on Sunday, a group of Khalistan radicals made an attempt to set the Indian Consulate in San Francisco on fire, sources told ANI.

A video of the incident was verified by sources who told ANI the fire was suppressed quickly by the San Francisco Fire Department. Calling the attack nothing less than a “terror act”, an official told ANI that no major damages or staffers were harmed.

The San Francisco police department, special diplomatic security personnel, and state and federal authorities were notified and an investigation has been initiated.

There have been several meetings with police and administration officials after the incident that prompted sharp and immediate action against those responsible for the incident.

Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Dr TV Nagendra Prasad, Consul General, Consulate General of India, San Francisco, have been targeted in a poster purportedly, circulated by Sikh extremists, accusing them of playing a role in the June killing of Khalistan Tiger Force chief and designated terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar, on Monday, said that India has requested partner countries like Canada, the UK, and Australia not to give space to Khalistanis as they harbor radical extremist ideologies.

On names of Indian diplomats in Khalistani posters in Canada, 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. I will raise the issue of these posters.”

This is not for the first time that the SF consulate has come under attack. Raising pro-Khalistan slogans, several protesters broke open the makeshift security barriers raised by the SF city police and installed two so-called Khalistani flags inside the Consulate premises in March.

Two consulate personnel soon removed these flags.

The US government condemned the violent incidents that took place during protests at Indian diplomatic facilities in the US, while also termed that violence, or the threat of violence is never an acceptable form of protest and is of “grave concern.”

The response from the US Department of State also came after pro-Khalistan supporters in the US threatened the Indian embassy and Ambassador Sandhu during another protest staged outside the Indian mission in Washington.

While rallying outside the mission, a protestor in his speech made a direct threat to the Ambassador that the “hypocrisy” will come to an end and that the Ambassador could face a similar fate to what former president of India Zail Singh faced back 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,” US Department of State spokesperson told ANI.

Multiple incidents of protests by supporters of Khalistan have been staged outside the Indian embassy and the San Francisco Consulate, however, no action against any person or group has been taken as yet. The extremist Sikh group is also planning to rally outside the Indian missions in the US on July 8.

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