A PTI journalist was verbally intimidated and physically assaulted by Khalistan supporters protesting outside the Indian Embassy here, drawing a strong reaction from the Indian mission which said such activities underscore the violent and anti-social tendencies of these separatists.
The US correspondent of the Press Trust of India, Lalit K Jha, was covering the pro-Khalistan protest when he came under attack. But the timely intervention by the US Secret Service and the local police saved him.
"We have seen disturbing visuals of a senior Indian journalist from the Press Trust of India being abused, threatened & assaulted physically while covering the so-called ‘Khalistan protest' in Washington DC earlier today," the Indian Embassy here said in a statement.
"We understand that the journalist was first verbally intimidated, then physically assaulted, and fearing for his personal safety and well-being, had to call in law enforcement agencies, who responded promptly," the statement said.
"Such activities only underscore the violent and anti-social tendencies of the so-called ‘Khalistani protestors' and their supporters, who routinely engage in wanton violence and vandalism," it said.
The Indian mission thanked the law enforcement agencies for their prompt response in the matter.
The protesters not only obstructed this PTI reporter by coming in front of the camera and placing the Khalistan flag on his face and kept pushing him, but also threatened dire consequences.
The reporter, apprehending physical harm, called 911 and ran towards the other side of the road for safety, looking for a police van.
One of the protesters abused the reporter and was asking questions like you have to tell me what are you going to report? The organiser backed off as the reporter complained to the police about the potentially harmful activities of the protesters.
Sometime later, two of the protesters came towards the reporters, who were standing near the Secret Service personnel. One of them told the Secret Service that the reporter be asked to leave “my land” which is federal property.
They warned that if there is any violence and the reporter is physically harmed, they should not be blamed for this.
Immediately the other protestor hurled abuses against the reporter, used unparliamentary words, and moved the two Khalistan flags that he had in his hand in such a way that its sticks hit the reporter's left ear with a bang.
The Secret Service personnel asked the reporter if he was ok. The Secret Service warned the protester that this should not be repeated, and sought additional reinforcement from police personnel.
The law enforcement official told the protestors that this was public land, and the reporter was all within his right to stand there and cover their protest.
In their speeches, the protesters repeatedly pointed fingers towards the two reporters and used abusive words against them.
While they prevented the journalists from doing their work, a group of protesters filmed the reporter covering their protest, took pictures and asked provocative questions.
"This violence against @lalitkjha is outrageous and an assault on journalism. I condemn it in the strongest terms. Lalit is one of the fairest and most thoughtful journalists. Thank you to our security for protecting Lalit and the diplomats and consulate," Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna tweeted.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)