(The Guardian newspaper) Crowds who gathered for the funeral of an Indian man killed in an apparently racially motivated shooting in Kansas last week have shouted: “Down with Trump” and held up placards that read: “#DownWithRacism.”
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old aviation engineer, was cremated in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad on Tuesday.
Family members performed the last rites on his body, which had been brought to his home state of Telangana from Kansas on Monday night.
Kuchibhotla’s mother, Parvatha Vardhini, said she would not allow her younger son to return to the US. “I had asked him [Srinivas] to return to India if he was feeling insecure there. But he used to say he was safe and secure,” she said.
“Now I want my younger son, Sai Kiran, and his family to come back for good. I will not allow them to go back. My son had gone there in search of a better future. What crime did he commit?”
The funeral was held hours after Adam Purinton, 51, a navy veteran, appeared in court in Houston, charged with Kuchibhotla’s murder, the attempted murder of his friend Alok Madasanim and a third man, Ian Grillot, 24, who was wounded when he tried to intervene..
Kuchibhotla and Madasanim went to the US to study and worked as engineers at GPS-maker Garmin.
Witnesses said Purinton shouted “get out of my country” before opening fire. According to a bartender who called 911, Purinton said he had shot “two Iranian people”.
The FBI is investigating whether the shooting constitutes a hate crime, the maximum sentence for which is death penalty.
The incident has raised concerns about the treatment in the US of immigrants, who feel targeted by Donald Trump’s promises to ban certain travellers and build a wall along the Mexico border, and left India and the Indian community in the US in shock.
The Telangana American Telugu Association urged its members to speak English in public places. “Much as we love talking in our mother tongue, it can often be misconstrued. Please see if you can communicate in English in public places,” a statement from the organisation said.
Last week, Kuchibhotla’s widow, Sunaya Dumala, appealed to the US government to do more to prevent hate crimes. “We’ve read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting happening. And we always wondered, how safe? I need an answer from the government … What are they going to do?” she said.
Hillary Clinton, the losing Democratic candidate in last year’s election, tweeted a link to an article about the shooting and wrote: “With threats & hate crimes on rise, we shouldn’t have to tell @POTUS to do his part. He must step up & speak.”
Trump has not commented on the killing. The White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, said last week that linking the death to Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric was “absurd”.