In a significant development, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted extensive searches at more than 15 locations in Punjab and Haryana on Wednesday. The operation is part of the ongoing investigation into the attack on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco earlier this year, orchestrated by Khalistani supporters.
The NIA, known for its meticulous investigative approach, sought assistance from US authorities on November 14, under the mutual legal assistance treaty. The agency has been piecing together evidence to identify those responsible for the attack, relying heavily on CCTV footage analysis and crowd-sourced information.
In a unique move, the NIA had released pictures of ten wanted individuals linked to the March 2023 attack on the Consulate. The public appeal, made on September 21, has generated leads and information that are crucial to the investigation.
The agency, on the same day, issued three separate “Request for Identification and Information” notices against the wanted accused. Two of these notices feature photographs of two accused each, while the third showcases pictures of the remaining six individuals allegedly involved in the case.
The assault on the Indian Consulate occurred during the night of March 18 and 19 when pro-Khalistan entities trespassed into the mission premises, attempting to set it ablaze. Slogan-shouting Khalistani supporters breached makeshift security barriers, raising two Khalistani flags within the Consulate premises, causing damage to the building, and assaulting officials.
In a chilling repeat on the night of July 1 and 2, some of the accused once again trespassed into the Consulate, this time attempting to set it on fire while officials were present inside the building.
The NIA initiated its probe into the matter on June 16, registering a case under multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. In August, an NIA team visited San Francisco to further its investigation.
As the NIA intensifies its efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, the searches conducted in Punjab and Haryana mark a significant stride in unraveling the intricate web surrounding the attack on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco. The collaboration between Indian and US authorities underscores the shared commitment to combating acts of terrorism and maintaining the security of diplomatic missions.