Hate crimes against Indians: State Department assures speedy justice; FBI to begin probe


The US on Sunday assured India of "speedy justice" to the Indian-American victims of suspected hate-crimes as the Indian envoy reached out to the State Department to convey his "deep concerns" over such tragic incidents.

"State Department, on behalf of US government, expressed condolences and assured they are working with all agencies concerned to ensure speedy justice," the Indian Embassy in the US said in a series of tweets.

India's Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna reached out to the State Department to convey his "deep concerns" to the US government on the recent tragic incidents involving Harnish Patel and Deep Rai. Sarna also "underlined" the need to prevent such incidents and protect the Indian community.

Indian embassy officials are in constant communication with local police officials in both cases. "We will remain in touch with them," an Indian Embassy source said.

There has been a slew of race-related incidents in the US, raising concerns over the safety of the members of the Indian-American community.

The home and driveway where Indian-American Deep Rai was shot on Friday. AP

The home and driveway where Indian-American Deep Rai was shot on Friday. AP

Last month, 32-year-old Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed when 51-year-old US Navy veteran Adam Purinton opened fire at him and his friend Alok Madasani, yelling "get out of my country".

The Indian Consulate in San Francisco is in touch with local authorities after an attack on a Sikh man in the US state of Washington by a masked gunman who told him "go back to your country", an official source said on Sunday.

The victim was identified as Deep Rai by the Indian Embassy in Washington. Rai, a 39-year-old Sikh, was shot outside his house on Friday, but survived the attack, unlike the two others — Harnish Patel of Lancaster, South Carolina, who was killed on Thursday, and Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was murdered on 22 February in Olathe, Kansas. Another Indian, Alok Madasani was also shot in the Olathe incident, but survived.

Patel, 43, the owner of a convenience store in Lancaster County, South Carolina, was found dead of gunshot wounds in the front yard of his home on Thursday. In the case of Patel, the county sheriff had pointed out that this may not be a hate crime.

Authorities said a gunman approached the Sikh man as he worked on his car in his driveway in the city of Kent, about 20 miles south of Seattle. The FBI will help investigate the shooting, authorities said.

Kent police chief Ken Thomas said the department is investigating the shooting as a hate crime. He said no arrests have been made yet after the victim was shot in the arm but that he did not believe anyone was in imminent danger.

"This is a top priority investigation, and we are doing everything possible to identify and arrest the suspect," Thomas said in an email, adding that residents in the city of about 125,000 should "be vigilant" but also not let the shooting hurt their quality of life.

The FBI's Seattle office said in a statement Sunday that it is "committed to investigating crimes that are potentially hate-motivated," The Seattle Times reported.

The Kent police have not identified the suspect or released other information. But India Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj acknowledged the incident on Twitter early Sunday, saying, "I am sorry to know about the attack on Deep Rai, a US national of Indian origin."

She said she had spoken to Rai's father, who told her Rai is out of danger and recovering in a hospital. Rai told the police that a man he didn't know came up to him on Friday night and they got into an argument, with the suspect telling Rai to go back to his homeland. He described the shooter as six-feet tall and white with a stocky build, police said. He said the man was wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face.

"All of the information that I have available at this time suggests that the information provided by the victim is credible," Thomas, the police chief, wrote.

Meanwhile, Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera has condemned the shooting of Rai, saying crimes motivated by hate are on the rise. "This disturbing crime is an outrage that goes against everything we stand for as a nation of immigrants," Bera said. "On the heels of the Kansas shooting, crimes motivated by hate are on the rise," Bera said. "Xenophobia and racism have no place in America, and we as a nation need to stand up to these hate crimes — starting with the President (Donald Trump). Thankfully, the victim is recovering and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family," said Bera, the three-term Indian American Congressman from California.

Kent mayor Suzette Cooke has also reached out to the victim. The Sikh Coalition, a national civil rights group, on Sunday said everything must be done "to confront this growing epidemic of hate violence." "We are all accountable for what happened in Kent, Washington on Friday night," Jasmit Singh, a Seattle-area community leader, said in a statement.

The Sikh Coalition praised Kent Police for swiftly moving to investigate the incident as a hate crime. "We applaud the decision by the Kent Police Department to pursue a hate crime investigation," said Sikh Coalition interim program manager, Rajdeep Singh.

Kent is about 30 km from Seattle and is near the Congressional constituency of Pramila Jayapal, an Indian-origin member of the House of Representatives. Jayapal tweeted, "Thoughts and prayers to family and the entire Sikh community in wake of the horrific shooting. This must be investigated as hate crime."

On the attack on Rai, MaryKay L Carlson, Charge d'Affaires, American Embassy in New Delhi, said she was saddened by the shooting in Washington state. She tweeted:

Sikhs have previously been the target of assaults in the US. After the 11 September attacks, the backlash that hit Muslims around the country expanded to include those of the Sikh faith. In 2012, a man shot and killed six Sikh worshippers and wounded four others at a temple near Milwaukee before killing himself.

With inputs from agencies


Published Date: Mar 06, 2017 02:34 pm | Updated Date: Mar 06, 2017 02:34 pm

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