Sikh man shot at by stranger in US, attacker yelled 'go back to your own country'
A 39-year-old Sikh man in the United States' Kent city has been injured after an unidentified person shot him outside his home and allegedly shouted "go back to your own country."
The victim, identified as Deep Rai, told the police that he was working in his driveway in the city of Kent in the Washington state about 8 p.m. Friday when he was approached by a stranger, the Seattle Times reported.
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.
Kent police told the newspaper that the agency has contacted the FBI and other law enforcement agencies about the incident.
"We're early on in our investigation," Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said Saturday. "We are treating this as a very serious incident."
Thomas said while the Sikh man sustained "non life-threatening injuries", they are "treating this as a very serious incident."
Jasmit Singh, a leader of the Sikh community in the nearby suburb of Renton, said he had been told the victim was released from the hospital, the Times reported.
"He is just very shaken up, both him and his family," Singh told the newspaper. "We're all kind of at a loss in terms of what's going on right now, this is just bringing it home. The climate of hate that has been created doesn't distinguish between anyone."
Kent Police Commander Jarod Kasner said the incident is getting attention from the Sikh community and others.
"With recent unrest and concern throughout the nation this can get people emotionally involved, especially when (the crime) is directed at a person for how they live, how they look," Kasner said.
Latest attacks on members of Indian community
The incident is the latest in a series of troubling cases where members of the Indian community have been targeted in apparent hate crimes.
It comes close on the heels of the tragic shooting in Kansas last month of 32-year old Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed when 51-year old US Navy veteran Adam Purinton opened fire at him and his friend Alok Madasani before 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.
Increasing number of incidents of racial abuse
Singh said that 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."
Advocacy group The Sikh Coalition said it calls upon local law enforcement officials to investigate this shooting as a possible hate crime.
Various rights groups and ethnic Indian organisations are reaching out to people of the community asking them not to succumb to fear and immediately report any incident of hate crime or violence to law enforcement authorities.
The Indo-American Democratic Organisation strongly condemned Kuchibhotla's tragic killing, saying "the circumstances around this horrible crime are incredibly troubling which includes but not limited to: unprovoked violence in a public venue, racial slurs, and a senseless attack against innocent members of the public."
It also called on local elected leaders to express outrage over the "unacceptable and appalling" situation and publicly commit to doing what they can to prevent and call out hate crimes across communities.
It said it will continue to "represent the best interests of the local South Asian American community against the rise of any and all hate crimes and we join in partnership with many other organisations and civic leaders who stand for a more just, safe and equitable country."
India Civil Watch, a collective of Indian-American activists and professionals, called on Indian-Americans to not succumb to fear in the wake of incidents like Kuchibotla's murder.
The community must get organised in broad coalitions with others who intend to defend immigrant and minority rights, it said.
"This is also a moment for Indian communities in the US to reflect, take stock, and prepare for the oncoming weeks and months of struggle against a rising tide of racism and xenophobia," it added.
Indian mission looking into attack
The Indian Consulate in San Francisco is in touch with local authorities after an attack on a Sikh man in the US state of Washington by a masked gunman who told him "go back to your country", an official source here said on Sunday.
Kent is about 30 km from Seattle and is near the Congressional constituency of Pramila Jayapal, the Indian-origin member of the House of Representatives.
Jayapal tweeted: "Thoughts and prayers to family and the entire Sikh community in wake of the horrific shooting. This must be investigated as hate crime."