Indian-Americans gather outside the Consulate General of India in support of India, in San Francisco | Photo: PTI
Washington: A large number of Indian-Americans waiving the tri-colour held a peace rally in front of the Indian Consulate in San Francisco to express solidarity with India following the vandalism at the facility by Khalistan supporters early this week.
A group of pro-Khalistan protesters on Sunday attacked and damaged the Indian Consulate in San Francisco. Raising pro-Khalistan slogans, the protesters broke open 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.
Scores of Indian-Americans drove from in and around San Francisco and waived the tri-colour to show solidarity with India on Friday.
"The attack on India's consulate by fringe elements was disturbing to not only Indian-Americans but the whole world community. We wanted to show our solid support and solidarity hand in hand with India " Satish Vale, a technology professional and community worker, said.
Indian-American community members condemned the destructive activities of separatist Sikhs, who were also present there in small numbers.
Local police were present there in sizable numbers to prevent any untoward incident. Some of the separatist Sikhs chanted pro-Khalistan slogans, but they were outnumbered by a large gathering of Indian Americans who chanted “Vande Mataram" and waved the Indian national flag along with that of the US.
Indian-Americans chanted slogans in favour of India.
"It was truly heartening to see people of all backgrounds (Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims) and ages show up to show solidarity with India against violence perpetrated by Khalistani terrorists who damaged the Indian Consulate in San Francisco," said Gauging Desai from Friends of India.
"I am also disappointed that none of the bay area elected officials has condemned this act of violence against India," Desai said.
"Good to see pro-India supporters reestablished vibrant enthusiasm, otherwise, it is alarming to see Khalistani extremism taking root in the US," Khanderao Kand from Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) said.
The ISI-sponsored radicalisation roots of this violence need to be investigated, and stopped by the FBI, Kand said.
Ritesh Tandon, one of the key organisers said: "I am very proud that 150+ people from the Sikh community, Bohra Muslims, and all other communities of India participated in a solidarity rally for the Indian consulate general in San Francisco,"
"I strongly condemn the attack on the Indian embassy, San Francisco, that occurred during the last weekend and continued into Wednesday," he said.
It is sad to see that the San Francisco government failed to provide security to diplomatic officials, he added.
"As far as I know no arrests have been made, despite the violence," Tandon said.
"I like to call for a prompt investigation into this unacceptable targeting of diplomats and diplomatic facilities. We remind the governments of San Francisco and the US of its responsibility under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to protect foreign diplomats in the US," he added.
He expressed hope that the US government will act fast and take severe action and punish culprits so that in the future no one will dare to repeat such an incident.
The organisers asked the US govt to take steps to secure all Indian consulate offices across the US and ensure that in the future such incidents are never repeated.
In recent months there has been a rise in anti-India activities in Canada, Australia and the UK by Khalistan supporters who have vandalised some Hindu temples in these countries.
India on Monday lodged a strong protest with the US Charge d'Affaires in Delhi over the incident of vandalism at the Indian consulate general in San Francisco by some pro-Khalistan elements during a protest.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi said the US government was asked to take appropriate measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
About 4.2 million Indian American/Indian origin people reside in the US. Persons of Indian origin (3.18 million) constitute the third largest Asian ethnic group in the US. PTI