Kansas consoles Indian community

Violence that claimed Kuchibhotla’s life is not the nature of the place: State Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer

Updated - February 28, 2017 03:20 am IST

Published - February 27, 2017 08:41 pm IST - WASHINGTON:

Hundreds of people march for peace on February 26, 2017, around the Ball Conference Center in Olathe, Kansas, before starting a prayer vigil in response to the deadly shooting incident of Wednesday.

Hundreds of people march for peace on February 26, 2017, around the Ball Conference Center in Olathe, Kansas, before starting a prayer vigil in response to the deadly shooting incident of Wednesday.

Indian community is a vibrant and integral part of Kansas, and the violence that claimed the life of Hyderabad-born Srinivas Kuchibhotla last week is not the nature of the place, State Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer told a gathering of mourners in Kansas city on Sunday. “We saw evil, but we also saw goodness. Events over the last few days brought out the best of Kansas,” he said, reciting the Upanishad prayer Asato Ma Sadgamaya .

For a community shaken by the incident, the words of Maggie and Laura, sisters of Ian Grillot, the 24-year old white man who stood up to the killer and took a bullet on his chest was reassuring. “The moment I saw the commotion on the road and heard about the shooting at the restaurant, I knew in my gut that Ian was involved. He wouldn’t run away ... We have been raised that way. To love one another, to be kind to one another…whatever is the colour of the person. Black. White or rainbow…” Ms. Maggie said, her voice choking. The family lives an earshot away from the restaurant where Kuchibhotla was shot dead and his friend Alok Madasani injured. “I take my own kids of this restaurant often,” she said. “The cardinal principle that guide us is – treat others the way you want to be treated.” Laura added that her brother did not consider himself a hero. “He believes he only did what anyone else in the same situation must do,” she said.

Another American hero

Mr. Madasani, recounted the story of another white American whose intervention probably saved his life. He barely knew Brad, as a co-patron of the bar that the Indian friends used to visit every week. “After the incident happened, he came to be by my side. He didn’t care whether he [the attacker] was going to come back, if the situation was controlled, he just came by my side because he knew I was the one who was suffering. He removed his shirt. He knew that there was a lot of blood that I’m losing and he kept his shirt around the wound so that I don’t lose more blood. When I was being taken in the ambulance, that’s what the guys in the ambulance told me . . . ‘That is probably what . . . saved your life,” Mr. Madasani said.

Police of chief and mayor of Olathe in the outskirts of Kansas City, and U.S Congressman Kevin Yoder who represents the area – all had the same message: ‘This was an isolated incident and the Indian- American community must look ahead.’

We’ll wrap our arms around you

“We will wrap our arms around you, and we want you to know that you are loved and you are welcome here,” Mr. Yoder, a Republican, said. Speaking at the event, Jay Kansara, Director of Government Relations, Hindu American Foundation (HAF), said the advocacy group would take up the death of Kuchibhotla with U.S lawmakers to ensure that “such hate crimes are not repeated, whoever is the target.”

Mr. Madasani agreed with the view that the incident should not be taken as representative of America. “It was rage and malice in an individual’s heart that killed my friend… killed our friend…It’s an isolated incident that doesn’t reflect the true spirit of Kansas, Midwest and United States.”

Respect of humanity

Mr. Madasani said, “I want to take this opportunity to ask . . . all of you for tolerance of our diversity and for respect of humanity. I hope I’m not asking too much, because that is what my friend would have wanted.”

Meanwhile, Elliot Engel, Congressman from New York, condemned the violence and held the Trump administration responsible for the climate of hostility. “Sadly, our new administration has not spoken out against the rising of tide of bigotry against Muslims or against immigrants, and the manner in which the administration rolled out its unconstitutional Muslim ban has only furthered this trend,” the Democrat said.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.