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US hate crime: Sikhs in Washington express concern, fear; FBI joins probe

Washington DC: Alarmed by incidents of the recent killings of Indian citizens in the United States, the Sikh community in Washington D.C. has expressed their concerns and conveyed the need to prevent such incidents and protect the Indian community.

“The Sikh community in United States is saddened by the incident in Kent Washington. A Sikh gentleman was shot in the arm. He was told to “go back to your own country. That has really created a heightened sense of alert and concern throughout the United States. It’s the similar situation,” said Dr. Rajwant Singh, Founder and Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education.

Asserting that there is deep concern for the safety of the community members, Singh said it’s very important that the national leadership comes forward and make a very powerful and strong statement against these kinds of hateful acts.

“Our heart goes to all the people who have faced similar circumstances. An Indian-American was killed in Kansas just few days ago and the Jewish community has seen the rise of threats against the community and their centres. So this is not the American that we have always felt so proud of. We feel America is a great country but there are some fringe elements who have now come out and they are trying to create hate among communities and against minorities,” he added.

“We need to have a leadership of this country.a political leadership to come out strongly and speak against these kinds of hateful acts. The law of enforcement agencies needs to take a strong action to allay the fears and concerns of the Sikh community throughout United States,” Singh said.

Meanwhile, The FBI has joined the investigation into the shooting of the Sikh man by a partially- masked gunman, who shouted “go back to your own country”, in a suspected hate crime.

“The Seattle FBI is assisting the Kent Police Department through a joint investigation of the shooting incident. “The FBI remains committed to investigating crimes that are potentially hate-motivated and we continue to work with all our community partners in the Seattle area,” said FBI Seattle Spokesperson Ayn Dietrich.

Ravi Singh, a Washington resident said it is important to recognize that their community is ready to engage in talk and reach across and speak to other communities.

“In a way, I think this is critical for South Asians to recognize that we need to work together. We should ensure that we have a larger voice together,” he added.

Another Washington resident Bhai Gurdarshan Singh said the country needs leadership this moment when there is a lot of attacks on the immigrants.

“This moment is a little bit scary post 9/11. There is a lot of backlash which is going on against the Sikhs and the Indian community. We want to make sure that the government is a strong force behind condemning these attacks which have been happening,” he added.

Meanwhile, Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna has conveyed the need to prevent such incidents in America and protect the Indian community to the state authorities.

“Amb @NavtejSarna convyd r deep concerns to US Gov on recent tragic incidents involving Hardish Patel & Deep Rai (sic),” Indian Embassy in the US tweeted on Sunday.

“Amb @NavtejSarna underlined need to prevent such incidents and protect Indian community(sic),” it added.

The State Department, on behalf of the US Government, expressed condolence and assured they are working with all agencies concerned to ensure speedy justice.

Earlier, the US embassy in Delhi also condemned the shooting.

“The United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study and live. US authorities will investigate thoroughly and prosecute the case, though we recognise that justice is small consolation to families in grief,” the US charge d’affaires said in a statement.

On Thursday, 43-year-old Harnish Patel, a store owner in the US, was shot dead outside his home, just days after Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed in Kansas in an apparent ‘hate crime’ shooting.

39-year-old, Deep Rai, a Sikh man, was shot and wounded outside his house by a partially-masked gunman in the US who shouted “go back to your own country”, in another suspected hate crime.

According to the Washington Post, the victim was working on his vehicle outside his home in the city of Kent on Friday when he was approached by a stranger, who walked up to the driveway.

There was an altercation, and the gunman – a stocky, 6-foot-tall white man wearing a mask over the bottom part of his face – said “Go back to your own country” and pulled the trigger. An argument ensued, and the suspect, wearing a mask, told him to go back to his homeland, the victim said. The victim told police the man then shot him in the arm.

According to the local police, the Sikh man sustained “non life-threatening injuries” and they are “treating this as a very serious incident.”

ANI