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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Friday, February 24, 2017

India Condemns Deadly Shooting in Kansas, a Possible Hate Crime

New York Times
By Nida Najar
February 24, 2017

NEW DELHI — The government of India expressed shock on Friday over a shooting in a Kansas bar that killed an Indian engineer and injured another Indian man as well as an American who tried to intervene.

Federal prosecutors are investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime. The top American diplomat in India condemned the attack on Friday, as the episode raised fresh alarms about the treatment of foreigners in the United States, where President Trump has made clamping down on immigration and refugees from Muslim countries central to his “America First” agenda.

The attack occurred around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City.

At least one witness said that the gunman, identified as Adam W. Purinton, 51, yelled “get out of my country” before opening fire, and a bartender at a Clinton, Mo., restaurant where Mr. Purinton was later captured said he had heard him say he had killed two Middle Eastern men, The Kansas City Star reported.

A 24-year-old American man who tried to intervene after he reportedly heard the gunman issue racist slurs was shot and hospitalized. He has been lauded in the Indian media as a hero.

Mr. Purinton was charged on Thursday with one count of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. The authorities have interviewed dozens of witnesses, and several officials said at a news conference that they were looking into the possibility that the shooting was a hate crime. The officials were Steve Howe, the district attorney for Johnson County, Kan.; Thomas E. Beall, the acting United States attorney in Kansas; and Eric K. Jackson, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I. field office in Kansas City.

Many immigrants in the United States have been voicing concerns about the policies and language of Mr. Trump, who has ordered restrictions on immigration and a sped-up deportation process for undocumented immigrants. The F.B.I. reported an uptick in hate crimes in the United States last year.

The dead man, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, worked for Garmin, a GPS navigation and communications device company, which has its global headquarters in Olathe. The wounded Indian, Alok Madasani, also worked for Garmin, according to the Indian government. The men were in their early 30s.

Thousands of Indian technology workers have come to the United States under the H1-B program, which grants skilled foreign workers temporary visas. But the potential tightening of that program has raised concerns in India, where many young people dream of studying or working in the United States.

“The United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study, and live,” MaryKay L. Carlson, the chargé d’affaires at the United States Embassy in New Delhi, said in a statement. “U.S. authorities will investigate thoroughly and prosecute the case, though we recognize that justice is small consolation to families in grief.”

Dhruva Jaishankar, a foreign policy fellow at Brookings India in New Delhi, said that an isolated incident like the Kansas shooting would not affect the relationship between America and India. But if more attacks against Indians were to occur, or if the United States were perceived to not be taking such cases seriously enough, there could be a problem, he said.

Last October, two men were charged with hate crimes in Richmond, Calif., after being accused of beating a Sikh man and using a knife to cut his hair, which was unshorn by religious mandate.

The attack dominated the Indian news media on Friday, with headlines calling the wounded American, Ian Grillot, a hero, and labeling the shooting a hate crime. In a video recorded at his hospital bed, Mr. Grillot said he hid under a table when the shooting began, then pursued the assailant, mistakenly thinking he was out of bullets. Mr. Grillot was shot in the hand and the chest.

“It wasn’t right, and I didn’t want the gentleman to potentially go after somebody else,” Mr. Grillot said.

Shashi Tharoor, an Indian lawmaker and former diplomat, said on Twitter in reference to the shooting, “The vicious racism unleashed in some quarters in the U.S. claims more innocent victims, who happen to be Indian.”

“I am shocked at the shooting incident in Kansas in which Srinivas Kuchibhotla has been killed,” India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, said on Friday in a Twitter post. “My heartfelt condolences to bereaved family.” Ms. Swaraj said she had spoken to Mr. Kuchibhotla’s father and brother, who live in Hyderabad, India.

Ms. Swaraj, the foreign minister, said Mr. Madasani had been released from the hospital.

India’s deputy consul in Houston, R. D. Joshi, went to Kansas to meet with the police, with Mr. Madasani and with other Indians in the community, and to help arrange for Mr. Kuchibhotla’s body to be returned to India, said Vikas Swarup, a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs.

According to The Star, Mr. Kuchibhotla had worked at Rockwell Collins, an avionics and information technology systems company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before joining Garmin International in 2014. His LinkedIn page says he graduated from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 2005.

Mr. Madasani graduated from Vasavi College of Engineering, also in Hyderabad, in 2006, before studying at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, according to his LinkedIn page.

“I couldn’t say anything slightly bad about Srinivas,” Rod Larson, who was Mr. Kuchibhotla’s supervisor at Rockwell Collins, told The Star. “He was well liked by anybody. He was excellent in all categories.”

Jay Kansara, director of government relations at the Hindu American Foundation, an advocacy group in Washington, 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.

Mr. Madasani’s father, Jagan Mohan Reddy, a government engineer in Hyderabad, said by telephone that his family was “in a state of shock.” He said he did not know whether he would ask Mr. Madasani and another son living in the United States to leave the country.

“We have to think it over,” he said. “My sons are not new to America. They have been staying there for the last 10 to 12 years. This is a new situation, and they are the best judges.”

A crowdfunding page on GoFundMe set up by Kavipriya Muthuramalingam, who said he was a friend of Mr. Kuchibhotla and his wife, Sunayana, has received $261,651 in donations by Friday afternoon, surpassing its $150,000 goal. Mr. Mutharamalingam said that he worked with Mr. Kuchibhotla at Rockwell Collins and that 100 percent of the proceeds would go to the family of Mr. Kuchibhotla, and would cover the cost of sending his remains back to India.

“Srini was the kindest person you would meet, full of love, care and compassion for everyone,” Mr. Muthuramalingam wrote on the page. “He never uttered a word of hatred, a simple gossip, or a careless comment. He was brilliant, well mannered and simply an outstanding human being.”

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