Indian officials expressed shock at the killing of an Indian engineer in a shooting incident in a bar in the United States, which is being investigated by U.S. authorities as a possible hate crime.
The incident was widely reported by Indian media and drew strong reaction on social media. Tens of thousands of Indians study and work in the United States and many say they are concerned about what they perceive as anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Trump administration.
Thirty-two-year-old Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla died of the wounds he sustained when a man allegedly opened fire in a crowded bar in suburban Kansas on Wednesday. Another Indian and an American who tried to intervene were injured in the incident.
The Kansas City Star quoted a witness as saying a man shouted “get out of my country” before shooting at the Indian men.
A 51-year-old man, Adam Purinton, who was arrested hours after the shooting, has been charged with murder and attempted murder.
Kuchibhotla earned an engineering degree in India and went on to pursue a postgraduate degree in electronics from the University of Texas and then work in the United States. He and his wounded colleague, Alok Madasani, both from the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, worked at Garmin International, a GPS navigation and communications company.
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said in a Twitter post, “I am shocked at the shooting incident in Kansas in which Srinivas Kuchibhotla has been killed. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved family.”
She said Madasani, who was injured, has been released from the hospital.
An Indian Foreign Ministry statement said that two Indian embassy officials were going to Houston to ascertain more details of the incident and monitor follow up action.
Condemning the shooting, the U.S. embassy in New Delhi said in a statement that “the United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the word to visit, work, study and live.”
U.S. Charge d’ Affaires MaryKay Carlson said U.S. authorities will investigate thoroughly and prosecute the case.
Referring to the incident, an Indian lawmaker and a former junior foreign minister, Shashi Tharoor, tweeted that “the vicious racism unleashed in some quarters in the U.S. claims more innocent victims, who happen to be Indian.”
Such comments came amid rising concerns among middle class Indians – who have long aspired to study and work in the United States, that President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and jobs could fuel a climate of intolerance. Most Indian immigrants to the United States are technology professionals.
In Washington, Jay Kansara, from the advocacy group the Hindu American Foundation, called for the shooting to be investigated as a hate crime. “Anything less will be an injustice to the victims and their families,” he said.
Indian media reports also highlighted the role of the American who pursued the assailant, some referring to him as a hero.