Ami Bera, Bill de Blasio condemn shooting of Sikh man in Washington

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Courtesy of CBS News.

WASHINGTON, DC: Indian American Congressman Ami Bera (D-California) has denounced the shooting of a Sikh man in Washington state, which is being investigated by the FBI and the police as a possible hate crime.

“This disturbing crime is an outrage that goes against everything we stand for as a nation of immigrants,” Bera said in a statement. “On the heels of the Kansas shooting, crimes motivated by hate are on the rise,” Bera said, reported CNN on Monday.

“Xenophobia and racisim 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,” he said.

The 39-year-old victim, a US national from India, was identified by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as Deep Rai. He received a bullet injury on his arm in the attack on Friday.

The FBI is helping the hunt by the Seattle city police for an attacker who told Rai to “go back to your own country” and shot him — in the second xenophobic attack on Indians in the past two weeks.

A statement on Sunday from the FBI’s Seattle office said the bureau remains “committed to investigating crimes that are potentially hate-motivated”, the Seattle Times reported.

Swaraj had tweeted that she has spoken to Sardar Harpal Singh, the father of the victim.

“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 wrote.

Rai was working on his car in front of his house in Kent city on Friday night when the gunman, described as white and who had his face partially covered, opened fire at him and fled, the police said.

“This is a top priority investigation, and we are doing everything possible to identify and arrest the suspect,” Kent Police chief Ken Thomas said, adding that the city of about 120,000 should “be vigilant”.

Thomas said the victim has been discharged from the hospital.

The shooting also created fear within the Sikh community with its members called on law enforcement to investigate the racially-motivated attack, the Seattle Times reported.

The US State Department has also, on behalf of the Donald Trump administration, expressed condolences and said they are working on the case.

The Indian Embassy in Washington tweeted that Indian envoy Navtej Sarna “conveyed our deep concerns to the US government on recent tragic incidents”.

Sarna said that India has “underlined the need to prevent such incidents and protect the Indian community” and the embassy was coordinating with “all agencies concerned to ensure speedy justice”.

The shooting also created fear within the Sikh community with its members called on law enforcement to investigate the racially-motivated attack, the Seattle Times reported.

Jaswinder Singh, of the Gurdwara Sikh Center of Seattle, said the group has received many calls and messages of support since the incident.

“It’s kind of scary to hear about things like this, but we definitely have been getting tremendous support from the community,” he said.

The attack reverberated across the nation, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio condemning it from New York.

“As mayor of the city with the nation’s largest Indian community, my message is clear: this is your city and this is your country,” De Blasio tweeted.

The incident comes after Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was shot dead, and his friend Alok Madasani was injured in a shooting incident at a bar and grill in Olathe, Kansas, on February 22.

The shooter, US Navy veteran Adam Purinton, 51, was charged with premeditated murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Authorities are investigating the attack as a hate crime after witnesses said he started yelling racial slurs, including “get out of my country”.

On Thursday, another Indian, Harnish Patel, 43, who ran Speedee Mart in Lancaster, South Carolina, was shot dead outside his house by an unidentified assailant.

However, the police have said the killing did not appear to be racially motivated.

Harnish, who originally hailed from Vadodara in Gujarat, was living in the US with his family for over 14 years.

 

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