The Indian community in the United States has reached out in solidarity with the victims of an apparent hate crime in which Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian professional, was fatally shot dead and two others were shot at, last week at a bar in Olathe, Kansas.
The shooter yelled “get out of my country” shortly before shooting the two men he thought were Middle Eastern. Both Srinivas (who died) and Alok (who survived) are immigrants of Indian origin. Ian Grillot was shot while trying to defend these two Indian men.
Many community members remain in shock over the shooting in Olathe, a suburb of Kansas City, when a drunk white man allegedly opened fire on two young Indian engineers, screaming racial slurs and telling them “Get out of my country.”
A candle-light vigil for the victims of the hate crime in Kansas was held on Sunday, Feb. 26, at Oak Tree Road, Iselin, New Jersey. The event was organized by the South Asian Community Outreach (SACO) under the leadership of Sam Khan, Chairman, Founder and President of SACO, Dr. Nimisha Shukla and other active members. This was part of SACO’s effort to bring the communities together and stay standing as one in tough times, with the SACO slogans:
“Hate for None, Love for All”. And “Unity in Diversity” were some of the banners members of the community carried at the rally. Attended by hundreds of members from the New York tri-state, representing several organizations, including elected officials, to show their solidarity and diversity. Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Jew religious organizations’ representatives participated in this protest against the hate.
Sam Khan said, “SACO’s message is that all of us must stand together, because such racist policies embolden bigots in our society and has already led to an increase in hate crimes –and now killings –towards all people of color. A bigot sees no difference between Indians, Iraqis and Yemenis; or Hindus, Muslims, Christian and Sikhs.”
In a message, Dr. Nimisha Shukla said, “And so, weeping tears for Srinivas Kuchibotla, who lost his life to this hatred which is gripping our country, but standing together, clinging together, never forgetting we are together, choosing love over hate, again and again and again, let us shout: WE ARE ONE.”
Sai Kota, cousin of the victim Srinivas Kuchibhotla, along with his other family members, also spoke at the protest and requested everyone to sign the petition against hate crime. Others who had attended and spoke at the protest rally included Middle-sex County Freeholder Shanti Narra, County Freeholder Charles Kenny, County Free-holder Kenneth Arm wood, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, Edison Councilman Ajay Patil, Pastors Amon Sharon and from different churches, a speaker from a Hindu temple, members of the organization Indian-American Muslim Council, President Minhaj Khan, New Pakistan PAC Dr. Ejaz Ahmed, Peter Kothari from Indo American cultural society,Manher Shah and Harshad Patel of IBA, Nilesh Dasondi, Parul Amin , Sanjeev Kapoor from IAFA, Col Tavathia and Seema Jagtiani from Shradha, Pakistan Day Parade Chairman Dr.Zubair,Members of the TANA Telugu Association of North America, Srujal and Saurin Parikh from FIA, Secretary of the Federation of Malayalee Associations of Americas (FOMAA) Jiby M Thomas, Syriac Kurian, Aniyan George, President of KANJ Swapna Rajesh, Ajith Hariharan, Saji Paul, Jos Vilayil, Anil Nair, Jay Kulambil, Jithesh Nambiar, Ajayan Venugopal, Sheela Sreekumar, Dr.Smitha Manoj, Anne George, Peter George, Savith Sampath from the Sadhana Coalition of Progressive Hindus, Secretary of NJ World Malalayee Council Jinesh Thampi , community leaders Juned Qazi, Harkesh Thakur from the Jersey City Sikh Temple, and past District Governor of Lions Club Mahesh Chittnis.