Sikh man shot in US: Sushma Swaraj speaks to father; rights group calls for hate crime probe

Sushma Swaraj today said she has spoken to the father of a Sikh man who was injured when a masked gunman shot him in Washington state after allegedly yelling Go back to your own country.
Sushma Swaraj speaks to father of Sikh man shot...
India TV News Desk Washington March 05, 2017 15:06 IST

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said she has spoken to the father of a Sikh man who was injured when a masked gunman shot him in Washington state after allegedly yelling "Go back to your own country".

"I am sorry to know about the attack on Deep Rai, a US national of Indian-origin. I have spoken to Sardar Harpal Singh, the father of the victim," Swaraj tweeted.

"He told me that his son had a bullet injury on his arm. He is out of danger and is recovering in a private hospital," she said.

Rai, 39, told the police that he was working on his car in front of his house in Kent city in the Washington state about 8 p.m. Friday when he was approached by a stranger, who had his face partially covered.

An argument ensued, and the suspect told him to "go back to your own country", and then shot him in the arm, the victim told police.

The victim told police that the shooter is 6-foot-tall, white and has a stocky build. He said the man was wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face.

Local media said the incident was being investigated as a possible hate crime and the police had reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for help.

The attack on the Sikh comes close on the heels of the tragic hate crime shooting in Kansas last month in which 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". 

Earlier this week, Indian-origin convenience store owner Harnish Patel, 43, of Lancaster in South Carolina was found dead of gun shot wounds in his yard.

Rights group calls for hate crime probe into attack

A Sikh rights group has asked US authorities to investigate as a hate crime the attack on Rai. 

The Sikh Coalition, along with local community leaders, has asked local, state and federal officials to investigate this shooting as an anti-Sikh hate crime as well as to improve bias prevention laws and organise 'Know Your Rights' forums to build community resilience and reduce the likelihood of future hate crimes. 

It said shooting in Kent, that has left Rai injured, follows the larger national pattern of hate violence directed at minority communities across the United States in the wake of the presidential election. 

"Investigating this as an anti-Sikh hate crime is critical, because without our government agencies recognising hatred for what it is, we can't combat the problem," said Seattle-area Sikh community leader, Jasmit Singh. 

The Sikh Coalition said the Sikh-American community, which has been an integral part of the American fabric for over 125 years, is estimated to be hundreds of times more likely to suffer hate crimes than the average American, in part due to the Sikh articles of faith, including a turban and beard, which represent the Sikh religious commitment to justice, tolerance and equality.
"While we appreciate the efforts of state and local officials to respond to attacks like this, we need our national leaders to make hate crime prevention a top priority," Sikh Coalition Interim Program Manager Rajdeep Singh said in a statement here. 

"Tone matters in our political discourse, because this amatter of life or death for millions of Americans who are worried about losing loved ones to hate," he said. 

Jasmit Singh said said the men from his community have reported a rise in incidents of verbal abuse, "a kind of prejudice, a kind of xenophobia that is nothing that we've seen in the recent past." 

He said the number of incidents targeting members of the Sikh religion, are reminiscent of the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks. 

"But at that time, it felt like the (presidential) administration was actively working to allay those fears," Jasmit Singh said, adding that "now it's a very different dimension." 

(With agencies) 

Chunav Manch Gujarat 2017
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