India's Strong Reaction After 'Extremists' Deface Hindu Temple In California

"I have seen it. Extremists, separatists, and such forces should not be given space," S Jaishankar said on the temple vandalism incident.

The walls of the Swaminarayan Temple in California were painted with pro-Khalistan slogans.

New Delhi:

India has sought an investigation into a prominent Hindu temple in California being vandalised with pro-Khalistan slogans and anti-India graffiti. The incident came to light when images were shared on X (formerly Twitter) by the Hindu-American foundation.

The photos showed walls of Newark's Swaminarayan Mandir Vasana Sanstha spray-painted with hateful slogans against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  

Reacting to the incident, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said such 'extremists' should not be given space. He underlined that the Indian Consulate in San Francisco has already taken up the matter with the US authorities and an investigation is underway.

"I have seen the news. As you know, we are concerned about this. Extremists and separatist forces outside India should not get space. Our consulate has lodged a complaint with the (US) government and the police there over whatever happened, and I believe the matter is being inquired," Mr Jaishankar told reporters.

The Indian embassy in San Francisco strongly condemned the incident and said that it had hurt the sentiments of the Indian community.

"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," they wrote on X.

According to the temple administration, the incident 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.

Newark Police are investigating the matter, which they believe was a targeted act.

"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 they have no room," Jonathan Arguello, a captain in the Newark Police Department said.

This is not the first time a Hindu temple has been targeted, as similar incidents have occurred in the past, both in the US and its neighboring Canada. India has earlier expressed concern over escalating activities by Khalistan supporters and clamped down on organisations and individuals trying to stoke separatist sentiment in different countries.

In August, a temple in Canada's Surrey was vandalised allegedly by Khalistani supporters. Pro-Khalistan posters were put up on the walls and the gate of the Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, in Surrey - one of the oldest temples in British Columbia. Some of the posters called for Canada to investigate India's "role" in the death of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.

Canada accused India of having a role in Nijjar's killing but hasn't yet provided India with evidence for the allegations. The US has also arrested an Indian for alleged involvement in a plot to murder Khalistan terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

India has called the allegations false and baseless, claiming that they will investigate if the countries provide proof.

"If someone gives us any information, we will definitely look into it," Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently told the Financial Times.