NEW YORK: In the latest racist and xenophobic attack on an Indian man in the United States, a 39-year-old Sikh man was shot in the driveway of his house in Kent, Washington, by a masked White man, who shouted at him: ‘Go back to your own country’, before opening fire. The Sikh man survived he murderous attempt and has been released from hospital. The FBI has been called in to investigate the attack as a hate crime.
King5 reported the victim was working on his car in his driveway in the Eat Hill neighborhood at about 8 p.m. when the attacker walked up to him. There was an altercation between the two men before the masked man, described as 6-feet tall, wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face, opened fire. The unidentified Sikh man was shot in the arm.
This is the third dastardly xenophobic attack on Indian men reported from three different states in the last 10 days: Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Reddy Madasani were shot at a bar and grill in Olathe, Kansas, the previous Thursday – Kuchibotla died. Madasani survived. On March 2nd, an Indian American businessman Harnish Patel was shot in his driveway by an unidentified attacker, in Lancaster, South Carolina. The motive of the crime is yet to be established, but given the growing hatred for immigrants, it wouldn’t surprise anybody if that too turns out to a race-motivated crime.
“It is our belief and opinion, based upon the experience of my investigators, that our victim is absolutely credible and that this incident did occur as he has described,” said Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas.
Satwinder Kaur a faith leader with Sikh SOCH, a local community group, said her community is shaken up after the incident.
“It’s hard to see somebody from your community being a victim of a hate crime. I’ve been here a long time and we haven’t seen something happening at this level,” Kaur said.
Kaur is urging her community to stay positive.
“I would tell them to continue their lives as they are doing every day and continue teaching neighbors and other people, talking to them. Don’t be scared. Just because we’ve been through one incident, it shouldn’t hold us back.”
Kent police have reached out to the FBI and other local agencies for assistance in their investigation.
The Seattle Times reported Jasmit Singh, a leader of the Sikh community in Renton, said he had been told the victim was released from the hospital.
“He is just very shaken up, both him and his family,” Singh said. “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.”
Singh said Puget Sound-area Sikh men in particular have reported a rise in verbal abuse and uncomfortable encounters recently, “a kind of prejudice, a kind of xenophobia that is nothing that we’ve seen in the recent past.”
To Singh, the number of incidents targeting Sikhs recalls the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“But at that time, it felt like the [presidential] administration was actively working to allay those fears,” he said. “Now, it’s a very different dimension.”
The Washington Post reported Sikhs have faced similar fears since Sept. 11, 2001, worried that they are singled out for persecution because of their religious head coverings, according to Sikhnet, a global virtual community for the religion’s adherents. Sikhs, who wear turbans as part of their religion, are from northern India and are neither Hindu nor Muslim, according to Sikhnet.
“Many Sikhs have become victims of hate crimes because of their appearance,” according to the site.
President Donald Trump mentioned the Kansas shooting in his address to Congress, said America has no place for hatred. But the spate of attacks on Indians continue.
(This post was revised on 3/4/2017)