Fri, Mar 24, 2017 | updated 05:41 PM IST

Sikh Coalition urges U.S. officials to conduct thorough hate crime investigation

Updated: Mar 06, 2017 09:42 IST

Washington D.C. [United States], Mar. 6 (ANI): Expressing their concerns over the recent attack on a Sikh man, who was shot and injured late Friday in Kent, Washington, the Sikh Coalition, a community-based organisation that defends Sikh civil rights has urged local, state and federal officials to conduct a thorough hate crime investigation in to the matter.

The Sikh Coalition also asked local, state and federal officials to organize Know Your Rights forums to build resilience in targeted communities and partner with Sikh Americans to expand Sikh awareness and appreciation.

The organisation also asked the officials to improve laws and regulations relating to bias prevention.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sikh man and his family," said the Sikh Coalition in their blog.

"This shooting is the latest in a string of attacks on minorities throughout the country - including bomb threats to Jewish community centers, arson attacks on mosques, and the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian-American engineer who was told "get out of my country" before being shot along with two others in Kansas last month," it added.

The local police department in an email to the Sikh Coalition confirmed that the shooting is being investigated as a potential hate crime.

The Sikh Coalition said that in recent weeks, they have shared information in English and Punjabi on gurdwara security and reporting hate incidents.

The organisation asked everyone to be vigilant and report if they witness something suspicious.

"We should not wait until someone gets hurt or killed to report hate incidents. We must be vigilant. If someone says hateful things about your Sikh identity, don't ignore it - rather, please report the incident to the Sikh Coalition on our Report Hate website - http://reporthate.org - or send an email to our legal team at legal@sikhcoalition.org," it said.

"As always, we encourage you to practice your faith fearlessly," it added.

Meanwhile, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Navtej Sarna has conveyed the need to prevent such incidents in America and protect the Indian community to the state authorities.

"Amb @NavtejSarna convyd r deep concerns to US Gov on recent tragic incidents involving Hardish Patel & Deep Rai (sic)," Indian Embassy in the U.S. tweeted on Sunday.

"Amb @NavtejSarna underlined need to prevent such incidents and protect Indian community(sic)," it added.

The State Department, on behalf of the U.S. Government, expressed condolence and assured they are working with all agencies concerned to ensure speedy justice.

Earlier, the U.S. embassy in Delhi also condemned the shooting.

"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 recognise that justice is small consolation to families in grief," the US charge d'affaires said in a statement.

On Thursday, 43-year-old Harnish Patel, a store owner in the U.S., was shot dead outside his home, just days after Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed in Kansas in an apparent 'hate crime' shooting.

Deep Rai, 39-year-old, a Sikh man, was shot and wounded outside his house by a partially-masked gunman in the U.S. who shouted "go back to your own country", in another suspected hate crime.

According to the Washington Post, the victim was working on his vehicle outside his home in the city of Kent on Friday when he was approached by a stranger, who walked up to the driveway.

There was an altercation, and the gunman - a stocky, 6-foot-tall white man wearing a mask over the bottom part of his face - said "Go back to your own country" and pulled the trigger. An argument ensued, and the suspect, wearing a mask, told him to go back to his homeland, the victim said. The victim told police the man then shot him in the arm.

According to the local police, the Sikh man sustained "non life-threatening injuries" and they are "treating this as a very serious incident." (ANI)

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