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5 Indian American Congress members seek update on probes into temple attacks

Washington, April 1 (IANS) US Congress’ five Indian-descent members on Monday demanded a briefing from the Justice Department on the spate of vandalism at Hindu temples across the country, some of whom were left with pro-Khalistan and anti-India graffiti.

“Attacks at mandirs from New York to California have contributed to increased collective anxiety among Hindu Americans,” the five members wrote in a joint letter.

“Leaders from these impacted communities have expressed there are unfortunately ‘no leads’ on suspects, leaving many to continue to live in fear and intimidation. Our communities remain concerned about law enforcement coordination regarding these bias-motivated crimes, and they are left wondering if there is appropriate federal oversight to ensure equal protection under the law.”

Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi is leading the initiative, his office said.

The other four are Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal, Ami Bera and Shri Thanedar.

“The number of incidents and the closeness of the timing of incidents raise troubling questions about linkages and the intent behind them,” the members said further.

“It takes relatively few coordinated acts of hate to create fear within a community that has often been marginalised or neglected, and we must work collaboratively to combat hate against all religious, ethnic, racial, and cultural minorities in America. We, therefore, request that you provide us with an understanding of what the Department’s strategy is specifically concerning hate crimes targeting Hindus in the US.”

A Hindu temple in Hayward, California, was defaced with pro-Khalistan graffiti in January, just a few weeks after similar graffiti was noted on a temple in Newark, also in California.

“With at least two incidents recorded in the last couple of weeks, attacks on Hindu temples by Khalistani separatists are seemingly on the rise,” the Hindu American Foundation, an advocacy group had said in a statement at the time.

Pro-Khalistani activists were involved in the two incidents of arson and vandalism at the Indian consulate in San Francisco in 2023.

While US President Joe Biden-led administration had responded with outrage promising to punish those responsible, no arrests have been made yet.

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