Like a practical diplomat, India’s foreign secretary S Jaishankar has put the well-being of Indo-US bilateral relations above the emotional turmoil that Indian-origin people in America are going through currently. Two Indian-Americans have been shot at in the US in recent weeks in separate cases of apparent hate crimes. Both were yelled at to “get out” of America before they were shot at.
Yet our top foreign bureaucrat dubbed the shooting of Indian-American engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla as an “individual” act. “What we heard from very high-level, cabinet-level that we should regard this as an act of an individual. Two, the American justice system was at work, it could bring the perpetrators of this act to justice. It is being prosecuted as a hate crime,” Jaishankar reportedly reacted after meeting his US counterparts on Friday.
Not a word on racism. Not a word on Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigration. Completely out of touch with what the Indian community in the US feels.
It may just have been a one-off thing, had another Indian-origin man, 39-year old Sikh Deep Rai, not been shot at in another “hate crime” that happened on Friday. The 39-year old Sikh victim was confronted by his attacker in the Washington state and asked to “go back to your own country” before being shot in his arm. The comments reeked of similar xenophobia as experienced by 32-year old Kansas shooting victim Srinivas Kuchibhotla before he was shot dead. “Get out of my country,” Kuchibhotla and his Indian mate were yelled at, before being attacked at a bar in Kansas.
Both the shootings have evoked feeling of fear in local communities. Many on social media have also squarely pinned the blame on Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric on immigrants for these crimes, which form part of a surge in hate crimes against immigrant and coloured communities in the US since Trump was elected as president.
An Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jaypal reportedly reacted to the Sikh man’s shooting, “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.”
America’s CNN quoted a Sikh community leader, Jasmit Singh, expressing helplessness over Donald Trump’s apparent reluctance to condemn the shooting,“In the past-in Bush, Obama time-there was swift action and communication saying that this is unacceptable. We aren’t seeing any response from this administration.”
“It is scary,” another Sikh community leader reacted to the shooting.
Clearly, Donald Trump’s sympathetic remarks in the wake of the Kansas bar shooting, made days after in his first address to the US Congress, did nothing to assuage fears among immigrant groups.
A Congressman from California, Amy Bera, expressed concern over racism and also urged Trump to take a stand, “Xenophobia and racism have no place in America, and we as a nation need to stand up to these hate crimes — starting with the President. Thankfully, the victim is recovering, and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
Contrast these reactions with the one coming from India’s top foreign bureaucracy, who went to the US as representative of the Narendra Modi government and Indians in living America.
A briefing by Jaishankar during his US visit,
— ANI (@ANI_news) March 4, 2017
Even India’s bold external affairs minister is too shy to call out racism or even name Donald Trump.
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./1
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) March 5, 2017
(Source: Sushma Swaraj/Twitter)
The Indian-American community has been one of the loudest cheerleader of Modi since he came to power, but now finds itself without a leader who could lend a voice to their concerns when they need one the most.
No legal action being taken in any of the cases, whether of Indian citizens or US citizens of Indian origin. Moral support justified in both http://t.co/1Rp0PmyiGd
— Ashok Malik (@MalikAshok) March 6, 2017
(Source: Twitter/Ashok Malik)