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Indians fear US travel after attacks

‘I might not only be discriminated against but also killed’

Gulf News

NEW DELHI: After three high-profile attacks on Indians in the United States in 10 days — two of them being investigated as possible hate crimes — concerns about travel to the country and the safety of relatives there are rising in India.

In the most recent incident, a Sikh man was shot in the arm Friday outside his home in the Seattle area by a man who reportedly shouted, “Go back to your own country!” the Seattle Times reported. The man, Deep Rai, is expected to recover; authorities are investigating the incident as a suspected hate crime.

The Seattle-area shooting follows the February 22 attack on two Indian computer engineers — Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani — in a Kansas bar that left one dead and was condemned by President Trump as an act of hate about a week later. On Thursday, a convenience store owner was fatally shot in South Carolina. An investigation is ongoing, but authorities said they have not seen evidence of a hate crime.

The attacks have prompted some in India seeking to visit, study or work in the United States to cancel or change their plans.

About 1 million people from India visit the United States annually, a number forecast to grow, according to the US. Travel Association.

On social media on Sunday, some Indians urged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to issue a travel warning against the United States.

“The US was never considered a place to fear going, but after these incidents, I will think twice,” said Anmol Alphonso, 21, a journalism student in Mumbai.

“After the attacks, the danger has become physical, which is why I feel that I might not only be discriminated against but also killed,” he said.

Paavan Shukla, 22, a Delhi University student, said she was reconsidering a planned trip in June to visit her sister, who lives in Fairfax County, Virginia, as well as Las Vegas and Phoenix. Shukla said she may drop the Arizona leg.

“I fear for the safety of my sister, who has been living in the US for eight years,” she said. “I am now checking up online to see what areas are safe to visit and which ones aren’t.”

Parents are worried. At Kuchibhotla’s funeral in the Indian city of Hyderabad on Tuesday, his mother cried and said she had pleaded with her other son not to return to the United States, where he lives. Madasani’s father also implored parents not to send their children to the United States.

A travel warning, if issued by the Indian government, would not be unprecedented. Several countries — including France, Germany and the UAE — have issued advisories in recent months urging caution for travellers to the United States over gun violence, police shootings and anti-Muslim attitudes.