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US probes hate crime angle into shooting of Sikh man amid spurt of attacks against India-origin people

Washington: The US authorities on Saturday began a probe to find out whether the shooting of a Sikh man here is linked to a possible hate crime.

A partially-masked gunman had reportedly attacked the 39-year-old on Friday.

The spurt of shooting incidents against Indian-origin people in the US have raised concerns in the community about their safety.

Deep Rai was working on his vehicle outside his home on Friday night in the city of Kent when an unidentified man approached him.

The man shouted “go back to your own country” and then shot Rai in the arm following an argument, PTI reported.

The Kent Police Department is investigating the shooting that left Rai wounded as a possible hate crime, according to a report in KIRO 7 news.

Rai, a Sikh, was wearing a turban.

He has described the shooter as a six-feet-tall white man, wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face. Kent police are looking for the gunman.

“To think this could happen in our community is very surprising and very disappointing,” police Chief Ken Thomas was quoted as saying in the report.

Thomas added the suspect and the victim did not know each other.

“This is the first incident of this magnitude that I am aware of in the city of Kent,” Thomas said.

Members of the Sikh community had contacted law enforcement officials and were pushing authorities, including the FBI, to investigate this as a hate crime.

One man said a lot of people are scared and couldn’t believe something like this could happen here. “All they see is a person with a turban, so it could have easily been me,” Amarjit Singh was quoted in the report as saying.

The case is the latest in a series of troubling incidents of apparent hate crimes, where members of the Indian community have been targeted.

Last month, 32-year-old Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed and his friend Alok Madasani was injured after a US Navy veteran opened gun fire at them, yelling “get out of my country”.

Meanwhile, Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has urged the Trump administration to probe the shooting of a Sikh man as a hate crime, and to speak out strongly against such incidents.

“I urge the Trump administration not only to investigate this shooting as a hate crime, but to take bold steps to fight hate-based violence in our communities.

“Enough is enough,” Jayapal, 51, the first ever Indian-American woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives, said.

Japayal, elected to the US House of Representatives from the Seventh Congressional District of Washington state, said the shooting is one of the many hate crime incidents to have devastated the community.

“People of colour are living under constant fear of violence driven by racism. These attacks against people of colour bear a stark resemblance to those that followed 9/11.

“Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s vilification and ‘otherizing’ of immigrant communities have real consequences to Americans across this country,” she said.

Indian-American Republican leader Puneet Ahluwalia said that it is too early to establish that this was a hate crime.

“It is very disturbing to hear that a Sikh man was shot but we are yet to verify if it is a hate crime. It is important that we all do not jump to conclusion.

“We are a country of law and order and have full faith in our police and FBI. We appreciate the concerns but have great faith in our nation’s justice system,” Ahluwalia said.

Reacting to the incident, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, “I am sorry to know about the attack on Deep Rai, a US national of Indian-origin. I have spoken to Sardar Harpal Singh, father of the victim.”

(With PTI inputs)

Source: Zee News