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Indian Engineer shot dead in US, Shooter yells ‘get out of my Country’

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian employee in GPS-maker Garmin headquarters in Olathe was killed in a congested bar by an American spewing racial slurs

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Srinivas Kuchibhotla
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, Wikimedia

Washington, Feb 24, 2017:  An Indian engineer was assassinated and two others were injured after an American man yelling “get out of my country” opened fire on them in a crowded bar in Kansas City in an apparent incident of hate crime.

On Wednesday night, Srinivas Kuchibhotla (32), who was a worker at GPS-maker Garmin headquarters in Olathe, was killed while another Indian man and his colleague Alok Madasani were critically injured after a 51-year-old Navy veteran started shooting hurling racial slurs following an altercation.
A third person, an American man who has been identified as Ian Grillot tried to intervene. He was injured as well in the firing in Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe.
According to PTI reporsts, The shooter, identified as Adam Purinton, reportedly got into an argument with the victims in the terms of racism and related issues, and shouted “get out of my country”, “terrorist” before starting to shoot them.
Reportedly, the victims were provoked by the shooter into the argument, who kept interrogating them about their work and presence in his country, and how they are better than him.
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The police reports stated, Purinton left the bar after the disagreement and then came back with a gun and shot the three men while patrons in the bar were busy watching the University of Kansas-TCU basketball game on television.
The shooter was arrested on Thursday morning, five hours after the incident and has been charged with murder and attempted murder. The shooting incident being a hate crime has been denied by the authorities at a news conference. The local police have informed that they were working with the FBI to investigate the case.
Olathe Police Chief Steven Menke told reporters, “It was a tragic and senseless act of violence”. In New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj expressed shock and grief over the mishap and said two Indian Embassy officials have rushed to Kansas to render all possible assistance.
In her tweet, Swaraj said, “I am shocked at the shooting incident in Kansas in which Srinivas Kuchibhotla has been killed. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved family. I have spoken to Indian Ambassador in US Mr Navtej Sarna. He informed me that two Indian Embassy officials have rushed to Kansas.”
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup informed that Kuchibhotla and Madasani hailed from Hyderabad and Warangal, and were working at Garmin in Olathe (Kansas).
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“The Indian Embassy officials will meet the injured and facilitate in bringing the mortal remains of the deceased and will be in touch with local police officials to ascertain more details of the incident and monitor follow up action. They will also meet the community members in Kansas,” Swarup added.

According to Garmin, Kuchibhotla and Madasani worked in the aviation systems of the company. In an official statement, Garmin said, “We’re saddened that two Garmin associates were involved in last night’s (Wednesday night) incident, and we express our condolences to the family and friends of our co-workers involved. Garmin will have grievance counsellors on-site and available for its associates today and tomorrow.”

The FBI has joined forces with the local police authorities in the investigation of this case. “The FBI is investigating to determine if the shooting of Kuchibhotla, was a bias-motivated hate crime in violation of the victims’ civil rights,” stated Eric Jackson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Kansas City office reporters, at a news conference.

The shooter who happens to be a navy veteran with inactive pilot license and air traffic controller certificate, told a bartender in Clinton, Missouri, where he was hiding after the shooting where two Middle Eastern persons were killed by him, local media reported.
The charges against him include premeditated first-degree murder and his bond has been set at USD 2 million. According to Kansas City Star, the shooter worked as an air traffic controller in Olathe. He has worked at the Federal Aviation Administration, but left FAA in 2000.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by the friends of the victim to help raise funds for sending his remains back to India.

The fund raising page says, “Srini was the kindest person you would meet, full of love, care and compassion for everyone. 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. His wife Sunayana and his family are now faced with incredible grief and a multitude of expenses.”

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The shooting incident has taken place at a time when acts of bigotry and hate crimes have notably escalated during the recent months in America. It has sent shock-waves among the Indian community across the United States and Indian-Americans.

Jay Kansara, director of Government Relations at Hindu American Foundation said,  “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Kuchibhotla. We are also praying for a speedy recovery for the injured. We call upon the US Department of Justice and local law enforcement to investigate this murder as what it is, a hate crime. Anything less will be an injustice to the victims and their families.”

According to a report in The Kansas City Star, 24-year-old Grillot hid behind a table when Purinton started firing. He counted the gunshots and when he thought the gunman was out of bullets, he jumped up to stop him. But Purinton still had one round left, and he used it to shoot Grillot.
The bullet went through 24-year-old Grillot’s hand and into his chest. He said, “I’m just very grateful that one of the gentlemen is fine and alive. It’s terrible what happened to his friend. But I think he was watching over us last night.” Grillot also mentioned that he learned Madasani’s wife is five months pregnant and that he considers the Indian engineer his new best friend.
The sports bar where the terrible accident took place has been shut down with a sign on the door that reads it would remain closed indefinitely.
– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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Internet Firms Initiate Steps to Counter Online Hate speech and Incitements to Violence

Internet companies have increasingly found themselves in the crosshairs over hate speech and other volatile social issues

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GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving joins the celebration during New York Stock Exchange opening bell ceremonies for his company's IPO, April 1, 2015. VOA
  • The internet domain registration of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer was revoked twice in less than 24 hours
  • After GoDaddy revoked Daily Stormer’s registration, the website turned to Alphabet’s Google Domains
  • Twitter, Facebook, Google’s YouTube and other platforms have ramped up efforts to combat the social media efforts of Islamic militant groups, largely in response to pressure from European governments

The internet domain registration of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer was revoked twice in less than 24 hours in the wake of the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, part of a broad move by the tech industry in recent months to take a stronger hand in policing online hate speech and incitements to violence.

GoDaddy, which manages internet names and registrations, disclosed late Sunday via Twitter that it had given Daily Stormer 24 hours to move its domain to another provider, saying it had violated GoDaddy’s terms of service.

The white supremacist website helped organize the weekend rally in Charlottesville where a 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a man plowed a car into a crowd protesting the white nationalist rally.

After GoDaddy revoked Daily Stormer’s registration, the website turned to Alphabet’s Google Domains. The Daily Stormer domain was registered with Google shortly before 8 a.m. Monday PDT (1500 GMT) and the company announced plans to revoke it at 10:56 a.m., according to a person familiar with the revocation.

As of late Monday, the site was still running on a Google-registered domain. Google issued a statement but did not say when the site would be taken down.

ALSO READ: People who use Internet a lot may experience increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure when they go offline: Scientists

Caught in the middle

Internet companies have increasingly found themselves in the crosshairs over hate speech and other volatile social issues, with politicians and others calling on them to do more to police their networks while civil libertarians worry about the firms suppressing free speech.

Twitter, Facebook, Google’s YouTube and other platforms have ramped up efforts to combat the social media efforts of Islamic militant groups, largely in response to pressure from European governments. Now they are facing similar pressures in the United States over white supremacist and neo-Nazi content.

Facebook confirmed Monday that it took down the event page that was used to promote and organize the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

Facebook allows people to organize peaceful protests or rallies, but the social network said it would remove such pages when a threat of real-world harm and affiliation with hate organizations becomes clear.

“Facebook does not allow hate speech or praise of terrorist acts or hate crimes, and we are actively removing any posts that glorify the horrendous act committed in Charlottesville,” the company said in a statement.

Several companies acted

Several other companies also took action. Canadian internet company Tucows stopped hiding the domain registration information of Andrew Anglin, the founder of Daily Stormer. Tucows, which was previously providing the website with services masking Anglin’s phone number and email address, said Daily Stormer had breached its terms of service.

“They are inciting violence,” said Michael Goldstein, vice president for sales and marketing at Tucows, a Toronto-based company. “It’s a dangerous site and people should know who it is coming from.”

Anglin did not respond to a request for comment.

Discord, a 70-person San Francisco company that allows video gamers to communicate across the internet, did not mince words in its decision to shut down the server of Altright.com, an alt-right news website, and the accounts of other white nationalists.

“We will continue to take action against white supremacy, Nazi ideology, and all forms of hate,” the company said in a tweet Monday. Altright.com did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, Twilio Chief Executive Jeff Lawson tweeted Sunday that the company would update its use policy to prohibit hate speech. Twilio’s services allow companies and organizations, such as political groups or campaigns, to send text messages to their communities.

Arbiters of acceptable speech

Internet companies, which enjoy broad protections under U.S. law for the activities of people using their services, have mostly tried to avoid being arbiters of what is acceptable speech.

But the ground is now shifting, said one executive at a major Silicon Valley firm. Twitter, for one, has moved sharply against harassment and hate speech after enduring years of criticism for not doing enough.

Facebook is beefing up its content monitoring teams. Google is pushing hard on new technology to help it monitor and delete YouTube videos that celebrate violence.

All this comes as an influential bloc of senators, including Republican Senator Rob Portman and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, is pushing legislation that would make it easier to penalize operators of websites that facilitate online sex trafficking of women and children.

That measure, despite the noncontroversial nature of its espoused goal, was met with swift and coordinated opposition from tech firms and internet freedom groups, who fear that being legally liable for the postings of users would be a devastating blow to the internet industry. (VOA)

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Five Years of Massacre: Sikh Community in US Continue to Hail Act Of Kindness

Devout male followers of the Sikh faith, a monotheistic religion that originated in Northern India, keep long beards and wear turbans, and often are confused with Muslims

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Six people were killed when a white supremacist attacked the Gurdwara or Sikh Temple of Wisconsin five years ago. VOA

Aug 06, 2017: Over the past year, minorities across the United States have increased their outreach to the public and efforts to make their voices heard amid fears of a White Supremacy movement.

The Sikhs of Oak Creek, however, were working to raise awareness of their faith and uplift their community long before 2016.

On August 5, 2012, a white supremacist named Wade Michael Page killed six believers of the Sikh faith in their house of worship, a Gurdwara, outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Mourners attend the funeral and memorial service for the six victims of the Sikh temple of Wisconsin mass shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Aug. 10, 2012. VOA

In the five years since, members of the Gurdwara have organized scholarships, blood drives, 6K walks and runs, and presentations on understanding the Sikh faith in local schools.

“My outreach is also a coping mechanism,” Pardeep Kaleka, whose father was one of the six victims, told VOA. “Processing my own pain and hurt… I’d rather just go into the community and make it better for everybody else.”

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Members of the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, prepare a communal meal for the community. VOA

Immediately after the shooting, the Sikh community increased its efforts to invite people of all faiths to come to the temple and learn about Sikhism.

But Navdeep Gill, who co-founded the temple’s outreach program, “Serve to Unite,” with Kaleka, says they soon realized they also needed to spread awareness outside the temple after members of the community said they were uncomfortable attending Sikh services.

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“Peacekeepers” at a Montessori school made this mural after a workshop with “Serve to Unite” – the organization started by the son of one of the victims of the 2012 shooting. VOA

“Whatever faith you practice, whatever community you come from, you should feel comfortable attending an event,” said Gill, who was tasked with organizing events commemorating the 5th anniversary of the shooting. “Whether that’s in schools, churches, telling other people who Sikhs are, as well as trying to learn about other people and see where the commonalities exist.”

Also Read: California Sikh community Raises Money to keep City’s Fireworks Show Alive

 Saturday’s 6K run is the 5th instance of the annual event. The blood drive was added three years ago to the August 5 activities.
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A man completes the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin’s 6k “Chardhi Kala” Run with a high five. VOA

This year, members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin had their first float in the 4th of July parade. Though organizers were initially skeptical, Gill said it was well received and prompted non-Indian neighbors to strike up conversations with participating Sikhs.

Devout male followers of the Sikh faith, a monotheistic religion that originated in Northern India, keep long beards and wear turbans, and often are confused with Muslims.

And while some minorities across the country have expressed feeling less safe since U.S. President Donald Trump’s election, Oak Creek Sikhs say the political climate hasn’t affected their community.

“Honestly, nothing has changed,” Navdeesh Toor, an Oak Creek resident and member of the Gurdwara for the past eight years, told VOA.

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People gather in Lafayette near the White House, Aug. 8, 2012 to participate in a candlelight vigil against hate violence. VOA

Toor said that although hate crimes have received more media attention in the past year, which some attribute partly to divisive rhetoric heard during President Trump’s campaign and first few months in office, she doesn’t see any impact on her community.

“A vast majority of Wisconsinites voted for Trump, including minorities and a lot of desis [South Asians] I know,” she said, adding that she didn’t fault her neighbors for voting for “the lesser of two evils” in 2016.

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Regardless of politics in Washington, survivors of the 2012 shooting, along with their friends, family, and fellow members of the Gurdwara, have not lost momentum in their pursuit of engaging the community.

“It’s not just about organizing 5Ks, it’s about… what we’re really being asked to do spiritually,” Kaleka said.

“I think there’s a reason [the shooting] happened, a reason those people who stood up made that sacrifice. This community has really stood up.” (VOA)

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Yazidi Woman who Survived Genocide Equates the Current Situation to Jewish Holocausts

Yazidi woman Nadia Murad Basee survived the atrocities committed by ISIS and explains how the situation is similar to Jewish Holocausts

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Nadia Murad Basee with the Pope. Twitter
  • Nadia Murad Basee, a Yazidi woman, shared her experience of the atrocities that she underwent because of ISIS
  • Having escaped from ISIS’ captivity, the brave woman is now urging for retributive justice
  • She equates the experience of Yazidi people to the Jewish Holocaust in Germany 

July 25, 2017: Nadia Murad Basee is a Yazidi woman who was captured by ISIS from her village Kocho, Iraq in August 2014. The terrorist organization sold her as a sex slave. Nadia’s life was shattered. Six of her brothers were killed during the ISIS raid on her house.

Nadia, who dreamt of becoming a teacher, had her life destroyed by the extremists. After months of captivity, however, she was able to escape from the hands of her kidnappers. The room where she was held was left unlocked by one of the men. Grabbing the opportunity, Nadia ran off.

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Today, Nadia Murad Basee is part of the refugee asylum program in Germany amongst thousands of people. Her remarkable bravery is exhibited as she shares her story around the world.

The Yazidi woman was chosen by United Nations as the Goodwill Ambassador in 2016. She advocates for the rights and justice of Yazidi people and urges strong action against the men who committed the crimes.

Yazidis are seen as non-believers by the extremist organization ISIS. Over 5,200 Yazidis have been abducted by ISIS in Iraq.

Nadia equates the current situation to the Jewish Holocaust in Germany. As she claims, there are striking similarities. She has received assistance from IsraAID and Yazda which are non-profit organizations set up to help victims of such crimes. As Nadia puts it, these organizations have been more helpful than “any government”.

Yazidis are seen as non-believers by the extremist organization ISIS. Over 5,200 Yazidis have been abducted by ISIS in Iraq. Click To Tweet

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post in Israel, Nadia said “We think our case is relevant to what they have been through in the Holocaust. It’s the thing we are going through. We think they’ll understand our case more than anybody else. We have been in many countries, meeting with governments for help for the Yazidi communities. I always wanted to come here to Israel, a lot of victims wanted to come and ask for help from the government and people of Israel.”

In the memory of Jewish genocide victims, Israel’s parliament Knesset is holding a conference where Nadia is supposed to speak on the same. Just as Hitler’s forces committed hate crimes against the Jews, ISIS has been doing the same with the Yazidi people.

Also Read: Yazidi Woman who Suffered 10 months as Sex Slave under Islamic State (ISIS) comes to Washington for Help

Nadia acknowledges the courage of the Jews to pick themselves up after the brutal crimes committed against them. She hopes that her community learns and does the same.

The mass murder of Yazidi community by ISIS constitutes a hate crime. Murad’s objective is to highlight this crime against the members of her community and punish the perpetrators.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394