Kansas Proclaims Indian-American Appreciation Day But State Senator Says Community Still Reeling From Hate Crime

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announcing March 16 as ‘Indian-American Appreciation Day.” He is flanked by Alok Madasani on his right and Ian Grillot on his right, the two men who were injured in the Feb. 22 hate crime attack that killed Indian IT professional Srinivas Kuchibhotla, in Olathe, Kansas (Photo: Gov. Brownback’s Twitter feed)

Almost a month after the Feb. 22 murder of Indian IT professional Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Olathe, (pronounced ‘Oletha’),  Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback declared March 16 “Indian-American Appreciation Day.” But the wounds have cut deep in the large community of Indian origin , according to the district’s State Senator Robert Olson.

Speaking to News India Times, Sen. Olson who has a close relationship with the Indian community in his district,  said, “there’s a lot of healing to do,” even though the community is “very strong.”

“Even though Alok (Madasani) has said repeatedly that he understands it is an isolated incident and we are doing everything to improve things, it’s still a healing time for the community,” Olson said.

Alok Madasani and bystander who tried to help, Ian Grillot, escaped with injuries at the hands of Alan Purinton, the man who gunned down Kuchibhotla at an Olathe bar, after questioning the visa status of the two Indian mn and telling them to get out of the country.

A select grounp of community members who attended the Proclamation event, were selected by Madasani and Grillot, said Olson knows Madasani and many other Indians even before the tragic incident. “He’s asked me not to give his number to anyone,” said Olson, and added he does not wish to make this a “political” issue that would embellish his own political credentials. The Senator has worked on various issues alongside the community, including building the local town’s cricket game over the last six years. “We started with ten teams and today we have 26 cricket teams in Olathe,” he said, and a dedicated cricket field is in the making.

The March 16 Proclamation expresses “heartfelt condolences” to Kuchibhotla’s family, and notes that “Kansas values of respect, faith, family, friendship and hard work are shared by our Indian-American neighbors.”  The Indian community, it recognizes, is employed in high-performance jobs and industries such as computer and software engineering; the medical field; the tech sector; education; and many serve in the military and hold local and state government positions.”

In 2007, Democrat Raj Goyle, was elected to the state assembly representing the 87th District, and served till 2011.

“Thousands of Indian-Americans who have called Kansas home over generations have enjoyed tremendous success through their ingenuity, hard work and determination,” the Proclamation says. Gov. Brownback said the perpetrator would be dealt with to the furthest extent of the law. “Acts of hate and intolerance have no place in Kansas and since the state’s founding, Kansans have fought against injustice and senseless hatred,” the Proclamation says. “We will continue to be committed to protecting our families, our neighbors and our guests; and … we welcome all Indians that wish to come to Kansas to live, work and raise a family in our communities and we thank them for contributing to our state’s prosperity.”