Washington-based Indian journalist Lalit Jha was physically attacked and verbally abused by pro-Khalistan supporters in Washington, DC while he was covering a pro-Khalistan protest outside the Indian Embassy on Saturday afternoon.
Jha on Sunday thanked US Secret Service for protecting him, and helping him do his job. He said he was hit on his left ear with two sticks by pro-Khalistan supporters. He also shared a video of the Khalistani supporters on his Twitter handle. “Thank you @SecretService 4 my protection 2day 4 helping do my job, otherwise I would have been writing this from hospital. The gentleman below hit my left ear with these 2 sticks & earlier I had to call 9/11 & rushed 2 police van 4 safety fearing physical assault,” Jha tweeted on Sunday.
“At one point I felt so threatened that I called 911. I then spotted Secret Service officers and narrated the incident to them,” Jha told ANI, adding the protesters took charge of the situation.
However, the journalist decided to take no action against those who heckled him.
“The pro-Khalistan protestors in support of Amrit Pal waved Khalistan flags and descended upon the embassy in the presence of the US Secret Service. They even openly threatened to vandalize the embassy and threatened the Indian Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu,” Jha told ANI.
The protesters included turbaned men of all ages who raised pro-Khalistan slogans. They came in from different parts of the DC-Maryland- Virginia (DMV) area. The organisers used mics to make anti-India speeches both in English and Punjabi languages and targeted the Punjab Police for alleged human rights violations.
Multiple events of protests by supporters of Khalistan have been staged outside the Indian embassy and the San Francisco Consulate. Earlier this week the Indian Consulate in San Francisco was also attacked on March 20.
Visuals shared online show a huge mob brandishing Khalistan flags mounted on wooden poles, using them to smash 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.
The United States strongly condemned the attack on the Indian consulate in San Francisco by a group of separatist Sikhs, terming it absolutely unacceptable.
The United States has condemned the attack on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco and any attack against diplomatic facilities within the US. The US has pledged to defend the safety, and security of these facilities as well as the diplomats who work within them.
“The United States condemns the attack against the Indian Consulate and any attack against diplomatic facilities within the United States. We pledge to defend the safety and security of these facilities as well as the diplomats who work within them,” US State Department spokesperson told ANI.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said via Twitter that the US condemns the acts of violence against the Indian Consulate in San Francisco. He further said that the US is committed to the safety and security of Indian diplomats.
He confirmed that the US State Department is in touch with the local law enforcement authorities.