Indians outraged over US shooting of engineer

A vigil being held for Mr Kuchibhotla (top left) at First Baptist Church in Olathe, Kansas, on Friday. Navy veteran Adam Purinton (left) reportedly opened fire while screaming at the victim and his friend Alok Madasani to "get out of my country".
A vigil being held for Mr Kuchibhotla (above) at First Baptist Church in Olathe, Kansas, on Friday. PHOTO: NYTIMES
A vigil being held for Mr Kuchibhotla (top left) at First Baptist Church in Olathe, Kansas, on Friday. Navy veteran Adam Purinton (left) reportedly opened fire while screaming at the victim and his friend Alok Madasani to "get out of my country".
Navy veteran Adam Purinton reportedly opened fire while screaming at the victim and his friend Alok Madasani (above) to "get out of my country".PHOTO: NYTIMES
A vigil being held for Mr Kuchibhotla (top left) at First Baptist Church in Olathe, Kansas, on Friday. Navy veteran Adam Purinton (left) reportedly opened fire while screaming at the victim and his friend Alok Madasani to "get out of my country".
Navy veteran Adam Purinton (above) reportedly opened fire while screaming at the victim and his friend Alok Madasani to "get out of my country".PHOTO: NYTIMES

The murder of an Indian man in a suspected hate crime in the United States has sparked outrage in India and concern for the safety of the many thousands who travel to the country each year to study and work.

India has asked for a speedy investigation into the killing of 32-year-old engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas state.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted: "I am shocked at the shooting incident in Kansas in which Srinivas Kuchibhotla has been killed. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family."

Mr Kuchibhotla, who was working with Global Positioning System navigation and communications firm Garmin, was shot dead while having a drink after work in a bar in Olathe on Wednesday.

His friend Alok Madasani, 32, and an American were also hurt in the attack, in which Navy veteran Adam Purinton reportedly opened fire while screaming at the two Indian men to "get out of my country".

Mr Kuchibhotla's family told the media they wanted justice and termed the killing a hate crime.

His wife, Ms Sunayana Dumala, described him as a "lovable soul".

His parents, who live in Hyderabad, were reported to be in deep shock.

Speaking to reporters on Friday at the Garmin headquarters, Ms Dumala said she had long been worried by reports of shootings she read about in the newspapers.

"I, especially, was always concerned. Were we doing the right thing by staying in the United States of America?" she said.

She needed "an answer from the government" about what "they're going to do to stop this hate crime".

Mr Kuchibhotla, an engineering graduate, had gone to the US to pursue a postgraduate degree in electronics from the University of Texas. Later, he started working for Garmin International.

Hundreds of thousands of Indians travel to the US for further studies and for work.

There are more than 300,000 Indian software engineers working in the US.

India and the US share good relations and have been increasingly drawing closer, particularly in defence and security.

Yet, the Trump administration's tough stance on immigration and its protectionist agenda are emerging as possible pressure points in the relationship.

India's outsourcing industry is worried about the possible scrapping or curbing of the H-1B work visa, used by Indian software companies to send engineers to the US.

Indian newspapers carried a number of reports on the shooting, including details on Mr Ian Grillot, 24, who was shot and wounded while trying to save the Indians.

He is recovering in hospital.

Indians also condemned the killing on social media, with actor Siddharth tweeting: "Don't be shocked! Be angry! Trump is spreading hate. This is a hate crime! RIP #SrinivasKuchibhotla."

Others, too, said that the climate in the US was not conducive for immigrants.

Mr Shriram Subramanian, founder of InGovern, a governance research firm, said: "Because of Trump, whether it's Indians or any outsider, there will be a sense of unease. When the leader is talking in a certain language, it gets resonated on the ground.

"Indian professionals have to be more cautious."

A crowdfunding campaign set up by a friend to support Mr Kuchibhotla's family has raised over US$530,000 (S$744,000).

A separate appeal to pay for Mr Grillot's medical fees has raised over US$300,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 26, 2017, with the headline 'Indians outraged over US shooting of engineer'. Print Edition | Subscribe