The US State Department on Saturday, December 23, condemned the vandalism of the Shri Swaminarayan Temple in California. It welcomed the Newark Police Department’s efforts to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.
In a post shared on X by the official handle of the US State Department for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs stated, “We condemn the vandalism of Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple in California. We welcome efforts by the Newark Police Department to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.”
The US State Department’s statement comes after the suspected pro-Khalistan activists allegedly defaced the Swaminarayan Temple in California’s Newark, police said, adding that the incident came to light on Friday (local time). The exterior wall of the Hindu temple was defaced with anti-India graffiti.
The Consulate General of India in San Francisco on Saturday condemned the defacement of the Swaminarayan Mandir in California with anti-India graffiti It called for quick investigation and prompt action on the matter from the US authorities.
In a post shared on X, the Consulate General of India in San Francisco stated, “We strongly condemn the defacing of SMVS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir at Newark, California with anti-India graffiti. This incident has hurt the sentiments of the Indian community. We have pressed for quick investigation and prompt action against the vandals by the US authorities in this matter.”
The Newark Police Service has started an investigation into the incident. According to the temple administration, the vandalism took place on Thursday night. “One of the devotees, who lives close to the shrine, discovered anti-Hindu and anti-India graffiti in black ink on an exterior wall of the building, and the local administration was immediately informed,” Bhargav Raval, the spokesperson for the temple administration, told ANI.
The spokesperson further said the temple authorities were ‘shocked’ to find the anti-Indian graffiti on its wall.
Sharing more details regarding the incident, Jonathan Arguello, a police captain for the city of Newark, said the ‘targeted act’ was being investigated.
“Based on the graffiti, we believe it was a targeted act, and it’s going to be investigated with full thoroughness. I can also tell you that as a member of the Newark Police Department and the Newark community, we’re deeply saddened when these types of acts occur, and we think they’re senseless and have no room. We won’t tolerate them here in Newark. So today, I wanted to make sure that you understand how seriously we take these situations and know that we will investigate as thoroughly as possible with utmost care and sensitivity. I can also tell you that officers are currently investigating this via evidence collection,” the captain told reporters during a press conference.
The police official said to piece together the chain of events leading to the act of defacement, the footage from surveillance cameras in the neighbouring residences was being looked into.
“Our policies that any acts of violence or threats of violence, property damage, harassment, intimidation, or other crimes motivated by hate or bias are considered very serious and given the utmost care. We’re handling this investigation as a hate crime at this point, based on our conversations with you and the physical evidence we’ve seen,” he said.
This is not the first such incident where a temple has been defaced with such graffiti in the recent past. The incident comes on the heels of the US Justice Department unsealing an indictment against an Indian national for his alleged involvement in a foiled plot to assassinate India-designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil.
The Justice Department claimed that an Indian government employee (named CC-1), who was not identified in the indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan, recruited an Indian national named Nikhil Gupta to hire a hitman to carry out the assassination, which was foiled by US authorities, according to prosecutors.
Gupta is currently in custody and has been charged with murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Czech authorities arrested and detained Gupta on June 30, pursuant to the bilateral extradition treaty between the US and the Czech Republic.
Reacting to the Justice Department’s indictment, the Ministry of External Affairs said the case filed against an individual in a US court, allegedly linking him to an Indian official, was a “matter of concern” and is contrary to government policy.
“We cannot share any further information on such security matters. As regards the case against an individual that has been filed in a US court allegedly linking him to an Indian official, this is a matter of concern. We have said and let me reiterate that this is contrary to government policy” the MEA spokesperson said.
Earlier in September, Khalistanis allegedly attacked the Indian Consulate in San Francisco. Videos of supporters breaking the doors and barging into the office surfaced on social media. Visuals shared online showed a mob brandishing Khalistan flags mounted on wooden poles, using them to smash the glass doors and windows of the consulate building.
They raised pro-Khalistan slogans as they broke through makeshift security barriers raised by the city police and installed two Khalistani flags inside the premises.e US State Department issued a statement on Saturday condemning the vandalism of the Shri Swaminarayan Temple in California. The department welcomed the proactive efforts of the Newark Police Department to ensure accountability for those responsible. DepartmentUS State ondemns Defacement of Hindu Temple in California Condemns Defacement of Hindu Temple in California