Kansas Racist Shooting Rocked Indian Community

Venkata Kondubhatla

Washington (DC): The Kansas shooting, where Kuchibhotla Srinivas, 32, was shot and killed by 51-year-old Adam Purinton at a bar in Olathe, Kansas, has rocked Indian-Americans and Indians back in the home country as never before.

Incidences happened in the past where Indians were killed in the US, but this is the first time that a hate crime has taken an Indian life. Indians were aware of the surge of racism and hate crimes recently in the country, but this is first of its kind that happened to them that they are unable to take and that has shaken their confidence in the country.

Indian community was targeted for various other reasons until now — for possession of gold, burglaries that targeted Indian wealth, or unfortunate incidents where Indians were killed, for example, Vamshi, a Telangana youth, was shot and killed by a carjacker in January 2017. Some have faced bullying at schools and workplaces due to racism mostly in the countryside. However, such incidents were occasional and the community has figured ways to cope with such incidents. So, none of these incidents had shaken the faith in the American dream among Indians and in Indian-Americans as the present tragedy did. Indians back home have become more concerned about their children studying or working in the United States.

All along the White House under Trump administration has been silent, except for once when Sean Spicer responding to a question asked in the press conference said that it was too early to call the Kansas shooting a hate crime. President Donald Trump hasn’t spoken on the issue yet. The FBI has been investigating the case to confirm whether it was a hate crime or not.

The civic society has reacted well to the incident that included both Americans and Indian-American community. Marches were organised at places like Olathe and Houston. Many in the community are asking if these hate crimes have anything to do with Trump’s rhetoric. Have these crimes been motivated by the speeches given by Trump and his colleagues during the elections and thereafter?

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 867 cases of hateful harassment were counted in the 10 days after the November 8 election. Even in the Obama administration, the hate crime or harassment had been surging. However, critics accuse Trump of fostering xenophobia and Islam phobia in the country.

That said, Indian community has come together to address the issue facing them. They are figuring ways to get support from the US administration and other victim groups, and to keep their American dream intact.

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