South Asia | White House breaks silence, says Kansas shooting disturbing
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House. Photo/AFP
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House. Photo/AFP

White House breaks silence, says Kansas shooting disturbing

Indian immigrant shot dead in US is cremated in Hyderabad, while mother says she will ask younger son working in America to return home for good

WASHINGTON/HYDERABAD, February 28, 2017 11:37 PM (UTC+8)

The White House finally broke its silence on Tuesday, saying it is “disturbed” by early reports coming from Kansas of a shooting incident in which an Indian immigrant was killed and another injured in a suspected hate crime last week.

The belated response came as the remains of the victim were cremated according to Hindu custom in Hyderabad, India, on Tuesday.

The White House also expressed concern over reports of vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia and attacks on Jewish community centers across the US.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday that violence based on religion and ethnicity will not be tolerated in America and no one should be afraid to follow their respective faith freely and openly.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, a software engineer working with Garmin, was shot dead by a navy veteran around 7.15pm at a crowded bar in Olathe, Kansas, on February 22.

The attacker Adam W Purinton, 51, was kicked out of the bar for spouting racial slurs at the two Indians before he returned with a loaded gun and shot Kuchibhotla.

Alok Madasani, 32, Kuchibhotla’s colleague, was injured in the shooting along with Ian Grillot, 24, a bar patron who tried to stop the shooter.

The incident shocked more than 25,000 Indian Americans living in the greater Kansas area who were already feeling insecure over the Trump administration’s immigration policy signed five days after his inauguration that effectively clamps down on entry of immigrants from Muslim nations and other ethnic minorities into the US.

Spicer’s earlier comment on the Kansas shooting that all killings are tragic did not satisfy the Indian community and pressure was mounting on the White House to come out with a more specific statement on the horrifying incident.

Federal investigation agencies are still examining whether the Kansas bar attack was a hate crime.

President Donald Trump is yet to offer any condolence to Sunayana Dumala, the widow of Kuchibhotla.

On Monday, Democrat Hillary Clinton asked Trump to speak up.

“With threats & hate crimes on rise, we shouldn’t have to tell @POTUS to do his part. He must step up & speak out,” Clinton tweeted.

In India, hundreds of people paid their last respects to Kuchibhotla before he was cremated on Tuesday.

His mother Parvatha Vardhini, told a national newspaper that she will ask her younger son Sai Kiran, who lives with his family in the US, to permanently return to India.

Meanwhile, in an advisory to the Telugu community in the US (which Kuchibhotla belonged to), the Telangana American Telugu Association has urged to avoid talking in Telugu in public places as it can often be misunderstood by others.

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