NEW YORK: An Indian American Sikh couple in Richland, Washington, found a note on their doorstep with vague threats in it, including phrases like “You are under attack” and “Watch yourself”. The note, however, was not in an envelope, but strangely, inside a diaper.
The couple have a new-born baby, so it’s possible that the perpetrator was trying to insinuate a threat to their child, or even be mocking them, as Sikhs have been ridiculed by racists for wearing a turban, a tenet of their religion.
The couple, who were not identified by Tri-City Herald newspaper which first reported the incident, are long-time residents of the ti-cities area. The husband works as an engineer and emigrated from India several years ago.
The couple told the publication that they have become frightened. They are more careful of their safety and skip taking walks in the neighborhood. They have also put up security cameras around the house.
“Those things bothered us,” and the diaper and note were strange and upsetting, the husband said. “I’ve never had any bad interaction with any of my neighbors. I was very surprised. Why would anybody do this?”
The couple have reason enough to be worried. A spate of crimes targeting the Indian community has been reported nationwide. Recently, a Sikh woman was sexually assaulted inside a gurudwara in Oregon and a Sikh man, Deep Rai, was shot on his property in the Seattle area of Washington. He survived.
It’s not just Sikhs though, but people of all faiths from India who have become targets of racially-motivated attacks. A Hindu Indian engineer from Andhra Pradesh, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was shot dead in Olathe, Kansas.
Muslims have generally felt terrified of new policies by the Trump administration which they feel are biased against them. Several mosques around the country have been vandalized.
The Sikh couple are not the only ones in their area to be targeted. The husband told Tri-City Herald that he’s also heard of other local incidents — a harassing note left on a car, harassing comments. Another Indian immigrant said he was yelled at while out for coffee a few months ago.
The husband said after he shared online about the diaper and note, he learned that a friend’s car had been hit with tomato sauce while parked at his house a few days before the doorstep surprise. He reported both to police.
Now, he has a new anxiety. His parents are coming on a visit from India soon. He said they like to take walks, but “I’m probably going to tell them not to go on a walk, at least for a few days. Just to walk in the backyard.”