U.S. assures India of speedy justice

Attack on Deep Rai in Washington State last week is being investigated as hate crime, say police

March 06, 2017 10:36 pm | Updated 11:12 pm IST - Washington

Tackling hate crimes: Sikh men in Bellevue, Washington State, take part in a vigil in honour of Srinivas Kuchibhotla.

Tackling hate crimes: Sikh men in Bellevue, Washington State, take part in a vigil in honour of Srinivas Kuchibhotla.

The U.S. State Department has assured Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Navtej Sarna that it was working with all agencies concerned to ensure speedy justice following the violence that has targeted Indian Americans over the last fortnight. Since February 22, three incidents targeting Indian-Americans have claimed the lives of two and injured two.

In the latest incident on Friday night in Kent, Washington State, 39-year-old Deep Rai was shot at by a masked gunman who shouted at him to “go back to your country.” The incident is being investigated as a hate crime and the victim’s statement is “absolutely credible,” said the police chief of Kent.

“Mr. Sarna conveyed deep concerns to the U.S. government on recent tragic incidents and… underlined the need to prevent such incidents and protect Indian community,” the Indian embassy in Washington said.

Last Thursday, Indian-American convenience store owner Harnish Patel was found murdered in Lancaster, South Carolina. Earlier, on February 22, Indian American engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead in Olathe, Kansas and his friend Alok Madasani was injured.

A 29-year-old Indian man was killed in New Jersey also last week, but this was not an incident of hate crime, according to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. She had quoted the father of the victim to say that it was a “family tragedy.”

Meanwhile, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell and Indian American Congressman from California Ami Bera were among those who condemned the attack on Mr. Rai.

“This disturbing crime is an outrage that goes against everything we stand for as a nation of immigrants. On the heels of the Kansas shooting, crimes motivated by hate are on the rise. 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. Thankfully, the victim is recovering, and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” Mr. Bera said.

“Thoughts and prayer go out to the Sikh man shot in Kent. I stand with the Sikh community and condemn these acts,” said Ms. Cantwell.

Representative Joe Crowley from New York said in a tweet: “I fought long & hard for Department of Justice to track hate crimes against #Sikhs, always hoping it wouldn't be necessary. Our country is better than this.”

Hate Crime investigation

The FBI is investigating the Kent incident and the shooting in Kansas as hate crimes. The FBI swiftly accepted the demand by Sikh community leaders to pursue the case as a 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’s Seattle spokesperson Ayn Dietrich.

“We applaud the decision by the Kent Police Department to pursue a hate crime investigation,” said Sikh Coalition’s interim programme manager, Rajdeep Singh.

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