US soil being used for terrorist activities against India: Community leaders tell DOJ and FBI

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A group of eminent Indian Americans in Silicon Valley has held a special meeting with senior officials of the Department of Justice, FBI and police and told that the US soil is being used for terrorist activities against India. The group held a meeting with senior officials of the Department of Justice, FBI and local police this week on increasing hate crimes against Hindus in California.

During the meeting, Indian Americans expressed their displeasure and dissatisfaction that the law enforcement agencies in the US have not been able to take any action against those who are espousing terrorism activities in India, according to multiple persons present in the meeting. The meeting to address the challenging issue of the rise in hate crimes against Hindu and Jain places of worship was held at the initiative of community leader Ajai Jain Bhutoria. It was attended by about two dozen eminent Indian Americans.

Vincent Plair and Harpreet Singh Mokha from the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service along with FBI officials and those from the police departments of San Francisco, Milpitas, Freemont and Newark attended the meeting. The sudden increase in hate crimes against Indian Americans in general and the Hindus in particular is causing a lot of fear and anxiety in the community, said the Indian Americans after the meeting which was closed to the press.

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There is a fear in the community right now. The Khalistan people park trucks outside schools, and Indian grocery stores and intimidate young Indian Americans. Several community members expressed their anger that the law enforcement agencies have not been able to take any action against those people, including those who tried to burn the Indian consulate in San Francisco, and are openly threatening Indian diplomats and giving open calls for terrorist incidents in India.

Some of the members present in the meeting told PTI that senior law enforcement officials said that they were not aware of the Khalistan movement in the US and wanted the Indian Americans to help them raise awareness about these terrorist groups in the US. They also said that they have not been able to take action because of a lack of resources and funds and that they have other top priorities.

This meeting was a crucial moment as we united to confront the recent surge in hate crimes targeting Hindu places of worship. I brought together Indian community leaders, DOJ, FBI, and law enforcement officials from Milpitas, SF, Fremont, and Newark. In the last four months, over 11 temples in the Bay Area alone have been attacked, vandalised, and defaced with hateful graffiti. The fear in our community is palpable, but our collective resolve is stronger than ever,” Bhutoria said.

“We delved into safeguarding places of worship and tackling hate crimes, notably those involving Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) Khalistani supporters targeting Hindu Temples, displaying disturbing banners in front of schools and corporate establishments. In our discourse, we explored the prospect of organising a Protecting all Places of Worship Forum (PPOW) with the DOJ,” said Sikh leader Sukhi Chahal.

Chahal said he personally underscored the significance of addressing the provocative and threatening video messages from SFJ pro-Khalistan separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu. “I urged FBI and DOJ officials to earnestly consider the potential repercussions of Mr Pannu’s statements on peace, harmony, and India-US relations. It is paramount that we collectively work to mitigate the impact of such hateful messages, which have the potential to disturb societal tranquillity and radicalise the youth,” he said.

Following the meeting, it was agreed that a working group will be formed under the guidance of the US Department of Justice that will actively pursue safety measures at places of worship and systemic reporting of any unwanted act. The working group would have representations from various sections of the Indian community. The community leaders expressed concerns that the police were not of much help to them in either addressing this increasing fear or stopping terror activities from the US against India.

When pressed on the issue of Khalistan, the law enforcement officials said that they don’t understand the context and they need to be educated on this matter. One of the Indian Americans told the FBI that the Khalistan leaders are openly threatening to blow up Air India planes and they openly carry messages around targeting Hindus. Another Indian American said that the FBI is not contradicting the claims by some of the Khalistan leaders that the FBI is supporting them, one of the participants said.