Arson attack at the SFO Indian consulate

Barely three months after vandalizing the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, Khalistani separatists set fire to it early Sunday morning, on July 2.

The San Francisco Fire Department swiftly doused the flames within six minutes of the incident, limiting damage to the premises. No one was hurt. According to @SFFDPIO⁩, no arrests have been made and the fire is still under investigation.

Witnesses reported that two men dressed in dark clothing were seen defacing the gateway to the Indian consulate with pro-Khalistani graffiti in the early hours of July 2.  They then sprayed and ignited flammable liquid from fuel cans on the entryway before fleeing the scene.

In a video released Monday on Twitter, Khalistani supporters claimed the arson attack was a protest against the capture and killing of Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Separatist leader assassinated

Nijjar was shot in his truck on the evening of June 18 outside the Guru Nanak Sikh gurdwara where he serves as president, in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, Canada. Two masked assailants fled the scene. His assassination triggered angry demonstrations outside the Indian Consulate in Vancouver,  with protestors shouting “We will not be silenced”

According to reports, thousands of supporters came from across the U.S. to join Nijjar’s funeral procession. Bobby Singh who travelled from Sacramento CA, told the Toronto Star “A Sikh community leader being assassinated in broad daylight put fears into public. But our (belief) is that you can kill a revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution.”

Violence Begets Violence

On Twitter, #DiyaTV shared a verified recording that shows a video tagged with the words Violence Begets Violence. It pictures the front of the Indian Consulate in flames and the slogan #Long Live Khalistan emblazoned across the top. The video also contains visuals of graffiti messages – #Free Amritpal Singh – on the building exterior. These referred to radical separatist Amritpal Singh who was arrested by police in Punjab in April.

The picture shows grafitti on a wall
Grafitti on the wall of the San Francisco Indian consulate (source: Twitter)

Officials condemn attack

The arson attack against the Indian Consulate in San Francisco and the posters circulating on social media with violent rhetoric directed toward Indian diplomats, including Ambassador Sandhu, drew strong condemnation from both the Indian and U.S governments.  

On Twitter, U.S State Department spokesman Mathew Miller said “Vandalism or violence against diplomatic facilities or foreign diplomats in the U.S. is a criminal offense.”

India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr. S Jaishankar warned against the use of Indian diplomats’ names on Khalistani posters in Canada. He asked Canada, the United States, the UK, and Australia – “not to give space to the Khalistanis,” adding that “this will affect our relations.”

Representatives Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Michael Waltz (FL-06), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, issued a statement that read, 

“As the co-chairs of the India Caucus, ….we support the right to free speech and freedom of expression for every American, but that is not a license to vandalize property or incite violence. Violence against diplomatic facilities is a criminal offense and will not be tolerated. We urge the State Department to coordinate with law enforcement in their investigation of the damage at the Indian Consulate expeditiously and hold those involved accountable.”

SFFDPIO released a statement saying that officers responded to and extinguished a fire on the 500 Block of Arguello Blvd. They asked anyone with information to call the SFPD at 415-575-444 or text a tip to TIP411.

This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.