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The US state of Kansas has declared March 16 as “Indian American Appreciation Day” to honour Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla who was killed in an apparent hate crime. Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and his friend Alok Madasani was injured when Adam W. Purinton, a white man who earlier served in the US Navy, shot them at the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe on February 22.

Purinton reportedly got into a row with the victims and hurled racial slurs. He yelled “Get out of my country” and “terrorist” before shooting them. An American, Ian Grillot, was injured in the attack.

“Kansas will remain committed to standing with the Indian community,” Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said at an event to commemorate the life of Kuchibhotla. Brownback issued a proclamation at the event to recognize March 16 as the “Indian American Appreciation Day”, reported The Kansas City Star. “We will always reject acts of violence and harm. We reject hatred in all its forms,” he said in Topeka, the state capital. “This is a deplorable act that happened,” Brownback said. “We will not let it define us as a people.”

The March 16 Proclamation expresses “heartfelt condolences” to Kuchibhotla’s family, and notes that “Kansas values of respect, faith, family, friendship and hard work are shared by our Indian-American neighbors.”  The Indian community, it recognizes, is employed in high-performance jobs and industries such as computer and software engineering; the medical field; the tech sector; education; and many serve in the military and hold local and state government positions.”

“Thousands of Indian-Americans who have called Kansas home over generations have enjoyed tremendous success through their ingenuity, hard work and determination,” the Proclamation says. Gov. Brown-back said the perpetrator would be dealt with to the furthest extent of the law. “Acts of hate and intolerance have no place in Kansas and since the state’s founding, Kansans have fought against injustice and senseless hatred,” the Proclamation says. “We will continue to be committed to protecting our families, our neighbors and our guests; and … we welcome all Indians that wish to come to Kansas to live, work and raise a family in our communities and we thank them for contributing to our state’s prosperity.”