Kansas shooting should be treated as individual act: Jaishankar

Washington: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said today that the Kansas shooting, in which an Indian engineer was killed, should be treated as an “individual act” and the American society was very much against it.

Jaishankar, who along with the Commerce Secretary Rita Teotia, held a series of meetings with top officials of the Trump’s administration and Congressional leaders, said the tragic incident in Kansas featured in many of their discussions.

“What we heard from very high-level, Cabinet level that we should regard this as an act of an individual. Two, the American justice system was at work, it could bring the perpetrators of this act to justice. It is being prosecuted as a hate crime,” Jaishankar said.

“What we have seen in the last few days, whether it is White House statement, or President’s reference to it in his address to the Congress or what the (House) Speaker said after he met us…Almost everybody we met, even people perhaps whose responsibility did not directly deal with this, we heard expressions of deep sorrow, deep regret and a sense of that we should really treat this as an individual act. And the American system and the American society was very much against it,” he said.

The incident, which is being investigated as a hate crime by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has sent shockwaves among the Indian-American across the country.

Members of the community met Kansas Governor Sam Brownback seeking his assurance in protection of Indian-Americans in the State.

Several Indian-Americans from in and around Washington DC and its suburb gathered at Dupont Circle in the national capital to hold a candle light vigil in memory of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, who was shot dead in Kansas City last week.

“Every tragedy brings us Americans closer. We as a nation have always risen from adversities and we stand together this evening to make sure that we don’t lose another American to hate or violence. It does not matter what your race, religion or colour is. We all bleed the same,” said Indian-American Republican leader from Virginia Puneet Ahluwalia.

Utsav Chakrabarti of the World Hindu Council said the tragic incident shows the need for an honest discourse at grassroots level about the fact that radical Islam is a religious ideology, not a “racial identity”, because continued normalisation of the latter, perpetuates such heinous and barbaric hate crimes against “people of colour” including Hindus and Sikhs.

“Srinu would have been 33, six days from now on March 9, had he not fallen victim to blind hate on that dark and deadly night of February 3 in Kansas. A gentle Hindu life cut short because of bigotry,” said Ahmar Khan in his remarks.
Washington DC Mayor Offices representative expressed

solidarity at the vigil.

A day earlier, a delegation of Indian-Americans in Kansas along with the Hindu-American Foundation joined the Indian Consul General in Houston, Anupam Ray, in meeting the Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Lt Governor Jeff Colyer.

“The hateful actions of one man don’t define us – KS welcomes & supports Indian community,” Brownback said in a tweet shortly after the meeting.

“Unique contributions of the Indian-community make KS a better place. We stand with them in the face of this crime,” Colyer said.

Brownback gave assurances that the perpetrator in custody, Adam Purinton, currently facing first-degree murder and attempted first degree murder charges, would be prosecuted to “furthest extent of the law”.

He further gave commitments that state officials would cooperate with federal authorities officially investigating the incident as a hate crime.

“The meeting yesterday with Governor Brownback and Lt. Governor Colyer was very fruitful in my opinion,” said Sridhar Harohalli, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Indian Association of Kansas City.

“The delegation got an assurance that this incident will be prosecuted effectively. Governor Brownback’s commitment help to get Srinivas’ widow Sunayana Dummala back to her home and career in Kansas was also heartening. We look forward to working with his office on initiatives such as the Indian Heritage Month to further enhance awareness about our community in the state,” Harohalli said.

The delegation requested the governor to ensure that the attacker is punished to the fullest extent under the law and serve justice to the victim’s families. The Governor also sent a personal message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through the Counsel General.