The incident took place in California, less than two weeks after a nearby place of worship was sprayed with offensive slogans
A Hindu temple in California has been daubed with pro-Khalistan graffiti, less than two weeks after a similar incident was reported at another place of worship around 11km away.
The latest vandalism at Vijay’s Sherawali Temple in Hayward was reported to local police by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), which also raised the matter with the civil rights division of the US Department of Justice. Photos posted online by the group show slogans insulting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hailing ‘Khalistan’ – a separatist homeland sought by a section of India’s minority Sikh community comprising parts of the northwestern Punjab state.
The latest incident comes less than two weeks after another Hindu temple in Newark, California – the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir– was defaced with similar messages. New Delhi reacted strongly to the incident at the time. “We are concerned about separatist elements operating on foreign soil and they should not get space there,” Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told the press in the wake of the vandalism.
The US State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs condemned the incident last month and said law enforcement officials should ensure that those responsible “are held accountable.” It was also condemned by several US congressmen of Indian origin, who called for “swift justice.”
The attacks on the Hindu temple come against a backdrop of a diplomatic row between New Delhi and its closest Western partners, the US and Canada, over the Indian government’s alleged targeting of pro-Khalistan activists on foreign soil. In November, a US court indictment alleged that an Indian government official had tried to orchestrate an assassination attempt against New York-based advocate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, one of the most prominent voices of the Khalistan movement in the US. Following the allegations, FBI Director Christopher Wray traveled to India to discuss the matter with the South Asian nation’s security and intelligence officials.
Last September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that “agents of the Indian government” were linked to the murder of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia, Canada last June. While New Delhi has vehemently denied Canada’s allegations and demanded proof from Trudeau, it has reacted differently to the US charges, stating that it had formed a high-level committee to probe “relevant aspects” of the case.
India has repeatedly raised concerns with Western countries that have large Sikh populations over pro-Khalistan sentiments. Earlier this week, Jaishankar claimed that Canadian politics had given a lot of “space” to pro-Khalistan elements who are being allowed to indulge in activities detrimental to India-Canada relations. During his recent visit to New Delhi, the FBI chief said US agencies were probing two attacks on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco that took place last year.
January 05, 2024 at 05:39PM