Kent police said an argument broke out between the two men, with Rai saying the suspect made statements to the effect of “go back to your own country”.
NEW YORK: A 39-year-old Sikh man in the US has been shot and wounded outside his home by a partially – masked gunman who shouted “go back to your own country”, in a suspected hate crime incident that comes just days after an Indian engineer was killed in Kansas.
The Sikh man, identified as US national Deep Rai by Indian officials in New Delhi, was working on his vehicle outside his home in Kent, Washington, on Friday when he was approached by a stranger, who walked up to his driveway.
Kent police said an argument broke out between the two men, with Rai saying the suspect made statements to the effect of “go back to your own country”. The unidentified man then shot him in the arm.
The victim described the shooter as a six-foot-tall white man, wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face. Kent police are looking for the gunman. Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas said while the Sikh man sustained “non life-threatening injuries”, they are treating this as a “very serious incident”.
Rai is able to talk, an Indian government official said. The official said the government was ready to offer all possible assistance to the wounded man. Authorities are investigating the shooting as a suspected hate crime, according to the Seattle Times.
Jasmit Singh, a leader of the Sikh community in Renton, said he had been told that the Sikh man injured in Friday’s incident has been released from hospital. He said the victim and his family are “very shaken up”.
“We’re all kind of at a loss in terms of what’s going on right now, this is just bringing it home. The climate of hate that has been created doesn’t distinguish between anyone,” he said. Singh said that men from his community have reported a rise in incidents of verbal abuse, “a kind of prejudice, a kind of xenophobia that is nothing that we’ve seen in the recent past.”
He said the number of incidents targeting members of the Sikh religion, are reminiscent of the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks. “But at that time, it felt like the (presidential) administration was actively working to allay those fears,” Jasmit Singh said, adding that “now it’s a very different dimension.”
India’s Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj shared her condolence on the attack on Deep Rai and said, “he is out of danger and recovering well in a private hospital.”
Advocacy group The Sikh Coalition said it calls upon local law enforcement officials to investigate this shooting as a possible hate crime.
Various rights groups and ethnic Indian organisations are reaching out to people of the community asking them not to succumb to fear and immediately report any incident of hate crime or violence to law enforcement authorities.
Courtesy: Times of India