At least eight people, including four Sikhs, were killed in a mass shooting in the United States on Thursday, according to Reuters. The shooting that took place at a FedEx facility in the state of Indiana is seen as an act of growing hate crime in the country.
The 19-year old gunman who allegedly died by suicide was a former employee of the facility, whose 90 per cent work force consisted of Indian Americans belonging to the Sikh community. The shooter was also placed under psychiatric detention last year, officials said.
Although US law officials did not immediately deem the attack to be of racial or ethnic origins, the Sikh community as well as Sikh civil rights groups have called for an investigation to determine a possible hate bias involved in the incident.
“This should be a wake-up call for the entire country, in particular, the Sikhs and Asian Americans, against whom there has been a sudden spurt in hate crimes,” community leader Gurinder Singh Khalsa told PTI. Not ruling out the possibility of a hate crime, Khalsa said community leaders are meeting on Saturday to discuss the tragic incident and the way forward.
Four victims who belong to the Sikh community are: Amarjeet Johal (66), Jaswinder Kaur (64), Amarjit Skhon (48) and Jaswinder Singh (68). The first three deceased are women.
“Enough is enough, our community has been through enough trauma,” said Komal Chohan, granddaughter of Johal, was quoted as saying by the New York Post. “I am heartbroken to confirm that my naniji (maternal grandmother), Amarjeet Kaur Johal, is among those killed in the senseless shooting at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis,” Chohan said.
Following the incident, US President Joe Biden ordered the national flag to be flown half-staff at the White House and all federal buildings. Biden also issued a proclamation in the honour of the deceased.
“Vice President Harris and I have been briefed by our homeland security team on the mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, where a lone gunman murdered eight people and wounded several more in the dark of night,” Biden said in a statement.
Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar on Saturday morning expressed “deep shock” over the killings and offered to “render all possible assistance.” In a tweet, Jaishankar wrote, “Deeply shocked by the shooting incident at FedEx facility in Indianapolis. Victims include persons of Indian American Sikh community. Our Consulate is in touch with the Mayor and local authorities in Indianapolis as well as the community leaders.”
Deeply shocked by the shooting incident at FedEx facility in Indianapolis. Victims include persons of Indian American Sikh community. Our Consulate @IndiainChicago is in touch with the Mayor and local authorities in Indianapolis as well as the community leaders.
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) April 17, 2021
The Indian Embassy in the United States, through a statement released on Friday night, has said that it is closely monitoring the situation and is on heels to provide all the assistance needed.
The tragic killings have once again brought gun violence and targeted hate crimes at the centre of security discussions in the states. In this month alone, there have been at least seven deadly mass shootings in the country.
Before this, seven members of the community were killed on August 5, 2012 at the Oak Creek Gurdwara in Wisconsin.
With Inputs from Reuters