Indians demand protection after US gunman shoots dead one and wounds another as FBI investigates possible hate crime.
Hundreds of grieving family and friends in southern India have attended the funeral of a 32-year-old man killed in an apparently racially motivated shooting in the United States that shocked the Indian American community.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an engineer with the US GPS-maker Garmin, died after a navy veteran is suspected of opening fire in a crowded Kansas bar last week. Witnesses said the suspect yelled “Get out of my country!” before the shooting on Wednesday night.
Kuchibhotla’s body was brought home late on Monday night to his hometown of Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana state, and cremated on Tuesday.
His mother, Parvatha Vardhini, wailed as the flower-laden body was taken in an open carriage from his home to the crematorium in Jubilee Hills area where it was placed on a wooden pyre and lit as part of Hindu last rites.
“I had asked him to return to India if he was feeling insecure there. But he used to say he was safe and secure,” she said as tears rolled down her face.
Vardhini said she would not allow her younger son, also employed in the US, to return to the country.
“My son had gone there in search of a better future. What crime did he commit?”
The deceased engineer’s father, Madhusudhan Rao, was more philosophical. “I believe in destiny. Whatever was destined has happened,” he said.
“Now I want the US government to take care of the security of our Indians who are working there.”
Adam Purinton, a 51-year-old US navy veteran, was arrested in Missouri on murder and attempted murder charges after the shooting at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe.
Another Indian, 32-year-old Alok Madasani, and 24-year-old American national Ian Grillot were wounded in the incident, which is currently investigated by local law enforcement agencies and the FBI.
In a statement on Tuesday, the FBI confirmed for the first time that it is investigating the shooting as a hate crime, basing its probe on “the initial investigative activity” involving the attack.
At a news conference in Kansas on Friday, Kuchibhotla’s widow Sunaina Dumala said she had expressed concerns about the targeting of immigrants in the US before the attack, but her husband told her not to worry.
The couple was planning their first child.
A statement by the Indian foreign ministry on Tuesday said that the US government and senior authorities in Kansas “have pro-actively responded to the unfortunate death of Kuchibhotla.
“It is important to note that the US authorities are engaged with us on the larger concern regarding safety of Indians in the US, a matter which continues to receive the government’s top priority,” the statement said.
US President Donald Trump has faced criticism for not commenting on the shooting incident, but the White House on Tuesday condemned the attack as an apparent act of “racially motivated hatred”.
— Kevin Nadal, Ph.D. (@kevinnadal) February 28, 2017
India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who visited the bereaved family over the weekend, strongly condemned the attack.
“Such incidents should not happen in one of the oldest democracies of the world,” he said.