Half a dozen killings in a week send shockwaves through Indian community in US

A total of six murders, including that of an eight-month-old baby, in one week begs an answer to the question every Indian wants to know: Is the community safe in the United States?

The United States is home to more than 4.5 million Indians, who are the highest earning ethnic group in the country.

President Joe Biden recently publicly declared: “It’s incredible, the Indians – of origin – the Americans take control of the country: you, my vice-president (Kamala Harris), my speechwriter, Vinay (Vinay Reddy)… You guys are amazing!”

Even as one grapples with the shock of four Sikh family members, aged eight months to 39, found dead in California, news of 20-year-old student Varun Manish Chheda stabbed to death on the Purdue University campus, sent shockwaves racing through the Indian community worldwide.

Earlier this week, Walmart employee Gurpreet Kaur Dosanjh was shot and bundled inside a car in a parking lot in San Jose, California.

In June this year, 31-year-old Satnam Singh was shot dead as he sat in a parked SUV on the street of his New York home. It came days after Sai Charan Nakka, a 25-year-old technician from Telangana, was killed after he was reportedly shot in the head in Maryland.

Along with horrific murders, American Indians have constantly struggled with racial taunts, assaults, hate crime thefts, and vandalism of their property.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 161 anti-Asian hate crimes took place in 2019, which increased to 279 in 2020.

Giving a religious break, the FBI said 54 anti-Sikh crimes took place in 2019, which rose to 89 in 2020.

According to a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

In late August, four Native American women were told they were “ruining” America and should “go back to India” by a Mexican-American woman in Texas. That same month, Krishnan Jayaraman was racially assaulted and called a “disgusting Hindu” by Californian Rajinder Singh at a Taco Bell outlet in Fremont.

Community members have also expressed concern over multiple brazen attacks on the Mahatma Gandhi statue in New York and other US cities.

“Such sectarian attacks motivated by racismxenophobia and other forms of hatred not only victimize those directly targeted by them, but also wider communities by creating an atmosphere of fear and danger,” Indo-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi recently said.

Last month, Native Americans staged a peaceful protest in Times Square against the recent spike in hate crimes and the vandalism of the Gandhi statue in the city.

A survey of American Indian attitudes published last year found that “one in two American Indians say they have experienced discrimination in the past year, discrimination based on skin color being identified as the most common form of prejudice”.

Somewhat surprisingly, American Indians born in the United States are significantly more likely to report having experienced discrimination than their foreign-born counterparts,” said the survey, supported by the Carnegie Endowment.

Biden had spoken out strongly against hate crimes at a recent anti-racism event.

It remains to be seen what Biden, who boasts of having appointed more than 130 American Indians to key positions in his administration so far, is now doing for the community that has made a significant contribution to this great landscape.


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