Indian consulate attack: US lawmakers, Indian-American bodies condemn incident, seek thorough probe

WASHINGTON, July 8: American lawmakers and several Indian-American community organisations have denounced the recent attack on the Indian consulate in San Francisco and called for a thorough probe into the incident so that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

While the right to protest is ingrained in the US Constitution, no one has the right to engage in violence, they said in separate statements and tweets on Friday.

They also condemned the threats issued to Indian diplomats, including India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu, by separatist Sikhs and called on the Biden administration to ensure safety of foreign diplomats.

A video by Khalistan supporters, dated July 2 and posted on Twitter, showed the act of arson at the Indian consulate in San Francisco.

The video, with the words “violence begets violence” emblazoned over it, also showed news articles related to the death of Canada-based Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Nijjar, one of India’s most-wanted terrorists who carried a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head, was shot dead outside a gurdwara in Canada last month.

Congressman Frank Pallone said foreign diplomats shouldn’t have to fear for their lives while on American soil.

“I hope the administration will help provide safety and security moving forward,” he said.

In a tweet, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “The right to protest is ingrained in the US Constitution, but no one has the right to engage in violence, including against diplomatic facilities.”

Diplomacy thrives on mutual respect, which can never coexist with such acts of violence, said Congressman Jonathan Jackson.

“As a member of the India Caucus, I stand alongside you in urging for an immediate and thorough investigation. Let’s ensure accountability and safeguard the respect that should characterise our international relations,” he said.

Last week’s attack was the second time within months that the Indian Consulate in San Francisco was targeted by Khalistani supporters.

On March 19, a group of pro-Khalistan protesters attacked and damaged the consulate. Raising pro-Khalistan slogans, the protesters broke the makeshift security barriers raised by the city police and installed two so-called Khalistani flags inside the consulate premises. Two consulate personnel soon removed these flags.

The Federation of Gujarati Association of USA also strongly condemned the attack.

“Such unruly behaviour is unacceptable and we appeal to the US authorities that the perpetrators are brought to justice,” the association said in a statement.

“We express our unwavering support to Shri Taranjit Singh Sandhu ji, the Ambassador of India to USA, and his team at the Indian Consulate in San Francisco during this time,” it added.

The Federation of Tamil Sangam of North America expressed its unwavering support to the Indian Consulate in San Francisco.

Maryland-based National Council of Asian Indian Associations said those behind the attempted arson should be brought to book.

The Global Assamese Entrepreneurship Forum said, “The alleged perpetrators should be brought to justice. We stand in solidarity with the Indian Embassy and Consulates and offer our unwavering support during this difficult time.”

Sikhs of America, a leading Sikh organisation in the US also strongly condemned the incident.

“We express our unwavering support to the Indian Consulate in San Francisco. We ask the local and federal law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators behind this to justice,” it said.

In a message to countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and the UK where pro-Khalistan groups have issued posters with threats against senior Indian diplomats, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday that space should not be given to those advocating violence or legitimising terrorism in the name of freedom of expression.

The safety of the diplomats and security of the Indian missions are of utmost priority to the Government and New Delhi has taken it up with countries concerned, it said. (PTI)