PHOTO BY: Tejinder Singh
Sean Spicer

White House Spokesperson Sean Spicer



Washington, DC – The White House called it “absurd” to connect the rhetoric from the new US President Donald Trump – who has since his campaign days talked against immigrants – with the fatal Kansas shootings, that some witnesses described as racially motivated.

Adam W. Purinton, 51, on Wednesday (Feb. 22) allegedly shot Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32; Alok Madasani, 32, of Overland Park, both Indian citizens and another American bar patron, 24-year-old Ian Grillot of Grandview.

Kuchibhotla died at an area hospital, police said. Madasani and Grillot were hospitalized and were reported in stable condition, they said. Witnesses said Grillot had stepped in and tried to stop the shooter. The Linked-in accounts for Kuchibhotla and Madasani say that they were engineers working at GPS-maker Garmin and had studied in India.

Answering a question during an off-camera press gaggle at the White House, Sean Spicer told journalists, “Any loss of life is tragic but I’m not going to get into that kind of — to suggest that there’s any correlation I think is a bit absurd, so I’m not going to get any further than that.”

According to the US State Department sources, the Indian Embassy in the US issued a demarche to the State Department on the killing of an Indian engineer and called for a speedier investigation.

Frankie Sturm, Press Officer, the State Department pointed to a statement issued by the US Embassy in New Delhi.

Chargé d’Affaires MaryKay Carlson at the US Embassy in New Delhi said in the statement, “We are deeply saddened by this tragic and senseless act. Our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families. The United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study, and live. US authorities will investigate thoroughly and prosecute the case, though we recognize that justice is small consolation to families in grief.”

Expressing full faith in the US legal authorities, the embassy statement offered all the help to the Indian consular officials “to offer full support as they assist the victims.”

Two days later, Indian Embassy spokesman Pratik Mathur in Washington, DC in a statement said, “Embassy has been closely monitoring the tragic incident involving two Indian nationals in Kansas.”

On the two victims, the statement continued, “The Indian Consulate in Houston is in close contact with the family of the deceased- Mr. Srinivas Kuchibhotla. In their hour of grief, we are providing all help and assistance to the bereaved family. Arrangements are being made to transport his mortal remains to India,” adding, “Government officials have also met with the injured victim- Mr. Alok Madasani and are ensuring his well-being.”

The statement concluded, “Government of India has also taken up the matter with the US authorities to express our deep concern and have asked for speedy investigation. US Government while condemning the attack, have assured us that they are conducting a thorough investigation into the matter.”

Organizations React

Expressing its deepest condolences to the victims and their families, the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) said in a statement, “Grief. Fear. Disgust. Outrage. The emotions this incident have fostered run the spectrum for communities forced to acknowledge increasing hate incidents and violence.”

SABA President Vichal Kumar stated, “In response to the increasing vitriol towards our communities, our government must be our first line of defense. Governments must protect the rights of minorities and ensure the safety of all of its citizens.”

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian advocacy organization, noted that this latest act of violence comes as no surprise “given the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim vitriol escalating across the country, most notably illustrated in President Trump’s divisive recent executive orders.”

“This incident is the latest in a rising tide of hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communities, electrified by the President’s anti-immigrant policies,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.

Condemning the shootings, leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) highlighted the role played by Ian Grillot who was shot when he intervened and then Bartender Garret Bohnen who alerted the police when Purinton confided to him.

“We at HAF want to thank those who put themselves at risk to stop this attack or to bring the perpetrator to justice,” said Jay Kansara, Director of Government Relations, adding, “It is these acts of heroism in our communities that make America great.”

Urging the US Department of Justice and local law enforcement to investigate this murder “as what it is, a hate crime,” Kansara said, “Anything less will be an injustice to the victims and their families.”

Individuals Express Anguish and Hope

Expressing shock and sadness over the deadly shooting in the Kansas sports bar, Hari Eppanapally, Chairman, Lead India Foundation, told IAT, “This country is a nation of immigrants and the progress of this great nation is because of the talent of immigrants from all of over the world. Irrespective of their origin, every one should be treated with dignity and respect since we are all Americans. This is our country and each one of us have equal right to stay here and serve the nation.”

Calling President Trump to make a statement immediately to “reflect this since the first lady is also an immigrant and stop these hate crimes,” Eppanapally suggested to have “community awareness campaigns in every city to make sure such events are prevented from happening.”

Ravi Batra, an excellent attorney from New York fumed, “Adam Puriton followed up his rage-soaked “Get out of my country!” rant with enough bullets to cut down law abiding Srinivas Kuchibhotla and shoot Alok Madasani and Good Samaritan Ian Grillot. While this may re-incite the KKK, as fresh blood in the water does Sharks, the fact remains this is a hate crime during Hate Season that needs POTUS to call an end to shameful and country-ripping demonic “hate,” in favor of our Better Angels that uplifts us all.”

Addressing President Trump’s chief advisor, Batra said, “The question that ought haunt Steve Bannon is: Has his White Supremacist coded rhetoric of “taking back (our) country” ignited the violent explosive pent-up anger among those who are “White” and “rich,” “poor” or “jobless?”

Expressing hope and confidence, Batra continued, “Those of us who voted for President Trump and want him to drain the swamp and restore Greatness – also expect greatness from POTUS, in addition to greatness from America. Let greatness define each of us, every citizen and institution, so America can truly be adjective “great,” and not merely noun “Great.”

“Based on the currently available facts as they have been reported, it would seem that this heinous murder clearly fits the definition of a hate crime. This being said, we urge a thorough and timely investigation into the shooting and ask that all relevant facts be released,” said M.R. Rangaswami, the founder of Indiaspora.

Suresh K. Gupta, Chairman, National Council of Asian Indian Associations (NCAIA), one of the premier umbrella organizations called upon the people to “wake up and voice your opinion.”

Calling the Kansas incident, “just horrific, racist, sad, unbelievable, horrible, reckless and ‘Not Acceptable’ in today’s world, Gupta felt the present Trump administration is “not promoting it, but for sure, is fueling the fire, by not condemning, but inciting it.”

 

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