3 Hindu temples in California targeted in quick succession

San Francisco: Three Hindu temples have been targeted by unknown miscreants in quick succession in the US state of California’s Bay Area region, leaving members of the community in shock.

The Vijay’s Sherawali Temple in Hayward was vandalised with anti-India and pro-Khalistan graffiti, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) said in a post on X on Friday.

A few weeks earlier, the outer walls of walls of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Newark were defaced with similar graffiti, and a theft was reported at the Shiv Durga temple in the same area, the Hindu advocacy group said.

“Another Bay Area Hindu temple attacked with pro-#Khalistan graffiti,” the Hindu American Foundation said in the post on X.

“The Vijay’s Sherawali Temple in Hayward, CA sustained a copycat defacement just two weeks after the Swaminarayan Mandir attack and one week after a theft at the Shiv Durga temple in the same area.”

Located at 20789 Garden Avenue, the graffiti spray painted with black ink targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and eulogised Khalistan.

The group said that is in touch with temple leaders, Alameda Police Department and the Civil Rights Divist of the Department of Justice to address the matter.

In view of the rising threat from pro-Khalistan elements, HAF urged temple leaders across the US to download its safety guide.

“The guide specifically discusses that temple graffiti qualifies as a hate crime and also the importance of installing working security cameras and alarm systems in view of the rising threat from #Khalistan proponents as well as the omnipresent risk from anti-Hindu actors,” HAF wrote and posted the safety guide on X.

Meanwhile, US authorities are investigating the attack on Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple, as a potential hate crime.

“We condemn the vandalism of Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple in California. We welcome efforts by the Newark Police Department to ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs had said in a post on social media platform X.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar condemned the defacing of the temple, and said that separatists should not get space.

“As you know that we are worried that… outside India the extremism and separatists should not be given space. Our Consulate there complained to the government and the police and I think an inquiry is underway.”

Mihir Meghani, co-founder of HAF, had told CBS News that the Indian-American community in the Bay Area is growing, and these political issues are now becoming a part of the division here.

These attacks on Hindu temples, occurring between December 2023 and the first week of the New Year, follow US indictment against an Indian national for his alleged involvement in a foiled plot to kill New York-based Khalistan leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

According to US-based advocacy organisation, Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA), a thorough and urgent action is needed to address growing Hinduphobia in the region.

“Freedom of religion means little when sacred spaces that are meant to be an oasis of peace and calm, are vandalised with no consequences. We are sad but not shocked — authorities, media and other groups have regularly downplayed or ignored the growing #Hinduphobia in the region,” CoHNA said in an earlier post on X.

“People who put those symbols and names up…what they are promoting is a separate state of Khalistan… So if those people who did this want that, that’s something that I think most Americans, most Indians, most Hindus don’t want,” Meghani had said.

IANS

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