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Posted at: Mar 20, 2017, 12:48 PM; last updated: Mar 20, 2017, 12:48 PM (IST)

Indian-Americans hold rally against hate crimes

Indian-Americans hold rally against hate crimes
Engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed by a Navy veteran at a bar in Olathe City, Kansas, last month. — Photo courtesy: gofundme.com

Washington, March 20

Indian-Americans, particularly Hindus and Sikhs, have become victims of Islamophobia and xenophobia in the US, the community members said as they held an awareness rally against hate crimes in front of the White House seeking President Donald Trump’s intervention in the matter.

“Hindus have been recently affected and victimised (in the US) as a result of Islamophobia. It does affect our community as well,” Vindhya Adapa, 27, a Virginia-based corporate lawyer, said outside the White House on Sunday.

Adapa along with a few dozen Indian-Americans representing various Indian-American groups from in and around the Greater Washington Area held a peaceful demonstration in view of the recent surge in hate crimes against the community.

“A recent example of that is recent shooting and murder of an IT personnel in Kansas, who was mistaken for being an Arab and a Muslim. I do think that the current political climate is eventually going to target all communities including Hindu-Americans,” said S Sheshadri, a young Indian-American doctor and Adapa’s friend.

“We are here today to raise awareness against hate crimes particularly against people of Indian origin. This is not necessarily a protest against the Trump Administration. We are here to seek bipartisan support against the hate crimes that has been happening recently against Indian-Americans,” Adapa said, urging the President to acknowledge and condemn what is happening.

“I would say what is happening against the Indian-American community is a result of xenophobia, Islamic phobia and the anti-immigrant statements that have come out from the Administration,” she alleged.

“A lot of Sikh people and Hindu people are mistaken for being Muslim, for being Middle Eastern,” she said, adding that the way to tackle that is to spread awareness about these different communities.

In a petition memorandum submitted to President Trump, the recently established Coalition of Indian American organisations of the USA, which organised the event, urged him to intervene in the matter and take steps to punish the culprits under federal hate crimes law.

It also urged the President to allay the fears of the Indian-American community and show his support, and take remediation steps to eliminate the hate.

“A message should go out to the people of this country from the administration that no citizen should take the law into their hands and it will not be tolerated by the government,” said the petition.

The peaceful protest was organised in the aftermath of a series of hate crime incidents against Indian-Americans.

Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and his colleague Alok Madasani and an American, Ian Grillot, were injured in a shooting by a Navy veteran who told them “Get out of my country!” at a bar in Olathe City, Kansas last month.

A 43-year-old Indian-origin convenience store owner, Harnish Patel, was shot dead outside his home in Lancaster County, South Carolina on March 2.

A day later a 39-year-old Sikh was injured by a partially masked gunman, who shouted “Go back to your own country!” and shot him outside his home in Kent, Washington.

An Indian-origin girl was racially abused on a train by an African-American in New York on February 23. He reportedly called her inappropriate names and yelled “Get out of here!” when she was travelling in a commuter train.

On March 10, a 64-year-old Florida man tried to set an Indian-owned convenience store on fire because he thought the owners were Muslim.

“Indian-Americans and the Indian Diaspora are in distress and are concerned for the safety of their families as the racially motivated hate crimes have been perpetrated against them across the countries in form of gun violence, vandalism, and oral harassment shouting ‘Go back to your country’,” the petition said.

“We have assembled here together to register our protest against recent hate crimes against Indian-Americans. The White House and the new President should acknowledge that the contribution of the Indian-American community,” said Shreekanta Nayak, a community leader from Maryland.

Puneet Ahluwalia, who was a member of the Trump Campaign’s Asian-American Pacific Islanders Advisory community, said that it is time to show solidarity with the Indian-Americans in the country.

“We really want to appreciate what President Trump said condoning hate and violence. As a proud Republican, a proud American, I want to support my community members in raising awareness and bringing attention to the crimes or ignorance of a lot of people who are attacking Indian Americans and other minorities,” Ahluwalia said. — PTI


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