By Ahmad Adil
NEW DELHI (AA) — India has conveyed its "strong protest" to the US over the "vandalization" of property of its consulate general in San Francisco.
"The US Government was reminded of its basic obligation to protect and secure diplomatic representation. It was asked to take appropriate measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents," said a Foreign Ministry statement on Monday night.
The protest was expressed in a meeting with the US charge d'Affaires in New Delhi.
It also noted that the Indian Embassy in Washington conveyed these concerns to the US State Department "along similar lines."
The local news agency Press Trust of India reported that "a group of pro-Khalistan protesters on Sunday attacked and damaged the Indian Consulate in San Francisco."
Part of India's Sikh religious community launched the Khalistan movement in the late 1970s to establish a separate homeland in the northern Punjab region. While Sikh secessionism in India has died down, pro-secession groups have become active internationally.
India on Sunday also said it summoned the senior-most British diplomat in New Delhi to convey its "strong protest" over actions taken by "separatist and extremist elements" against the Indian High Commission in the UK. The protesters had pulled down the Indian flag at the Indian High Commission in London.
The protests in Britain and the US came as authorities in the northern Indian state of Punjab launched a crackdown on self-styled preacher and "fugitive" Amritpal Singh, along with his supporters.
Singh, who in interviews voiced support for Khalistan ideology, gained prominence after he and his supporters stormed a police station in Punjab. Many of the attackers were reportedly wielding guns and swords, demanding the release of an arrested aide.
A few months ago, he was appointed head of a group known as Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab), formed by actor and activist Deep Sidhu. Sidhu was arrested in connection with violence during a protest held by farmers in the capital New Delhi and died in a car crash last year.
In view of the crackdown and to maintain law and order, the Punjab government suspended mobile Internet and messaging services until Tuesday at noon, according to officials. Services have since resumed in Punjab except in some districts.
A statement by the Punjab government said the police "continued its crackdown on Waris Punjab De elements, wanted on criminal charges, and also made preventive arrests of persons attempting to disturb peace and law and order in the state. Amritpal Singh remains a fugitive and efforts are being made to arrest him."
Punjab police have arrested over 100 people so far.