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Indian man killed in hate crime in US bar

Washington/Hyderabad, Feb 24: An Indian engineer was killed and another injured by an American who mistook them for “Middle Easterners” and yelled “Get out of my country” before shooting them at a bar.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and Alok Madasani was injured when Adam W. Purinton, a white who earlier served in the US vy, shot them at the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas state, on Wednesday night.

Purinton reportedly got into an argument with the victims and hurled racial slurs. He yelled “get out of my country”, “terrorist” before shooting them.

Purinton, according to reports, provoked them into argument asking their presence and work in his country, and how they are better than him.

To avoid unwanted scuffle, the bar magement asked him to leave the place, only to find him back at the bar later with gun when he fired at the Indians.

Ian Grillot, 24, an American who tried to save the Indians, was also shot at, media reports quoted police as saying. Grillot was recovering in a hospital while Madasani was discharged. The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) called it a hate crime.

Police said Purinton, 51, fired multiple rounds and fled the bar. He was arrested on Thursday morning in Clinton city in neighbouring Missouri state when a bartender told police that he had bragged about killing “two Middle Eastern men”, The Kansas City Star reported.

The US “strongly” condemned the shooting and said it has reached out to Indian consular officials to offer support. The US Embassy in New Delhi expressed full faith in the US authorities investigating the matter. “We have full faith that US legal authorities will bring the case to justice,” the statement said.

Purinton has been charged with first-degree murder. “It was a tragic and senseless act of violence,” Olathe Police Chief Steven Menke said.

Kuchibhotla hailed from Hyderabad while Madasani is from Warangal town in Telanga. They were aviation programme magers at Garmin, an electronics manufacturer. Kuchibhotla is survived by his wife, Suya, in the US. She also works in Kansas. Madasani’s wife is five months pregnt.

According to his profile on LinkedIn, Kuchibhotla graduated from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad in 2005. Madasani is a graduate of the Vasavi College of Engineering in Hyderabad. Kuchibhotla’s family in India was in shock and sought help from the state and central governments to bring home his body. Exterl Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday expressed “heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family” and said she had spoken to the Indian ambassador, vtej Sar.

The Minister said Consul R.D. Joshi had rushed from Houston to Kansas and Vice Consul Harpal Singh was also proceeding from Dallas to Kansas.

They would meet the injured Madasani and help in flying back the mortal remains of Kuchibhotla. According to The Star, federal officials were investigating if the attack was a hate crime. The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) said the killing was “the first reported bias-motivated fatality in the US after the bitter Presidential election” that catapulted Dold Trump to office. “We call upon the US Department of Justice and local law enforcement to investigate this murder as what it is, a hate crime,” said Jay Kansara, the HAF Director of Government Relations. The killing of the innocent engineer triggered dismay in India. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu idu said he was saddened to learn about the attack.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page created to collect money to help Kuchibhotla’s family crossed its $150,000 goal, raising nearly $250,000 in 11 hours. More than 6,700 people, including Americans, doted $248,404 on the page created by Kuchibhotla’s friend Kavipriya Muthuramalingam. Kuchibhotla is the second youth from Telanga to be killed in the US in February. Software engineer Vamshi Reddy Mamidala was shot dead by an alleged drug addict in Milpitas, California, on February 10, in the garage of his apartment building. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita