Washington: Hundreds of people marched and prayed Sunday in the Midwestern US city where an Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed and another wounded in a suspected hate crime that has prompted calls for action.
Indians at home and in the United States have expressed shock at Wednesday’s shooting in the Kansas community of Olathe that saw a drunk white man scream racial slurs and allegedly open fire on Mr Kuchibhotla and his friend Alok Madasani. Mr Kuchibhotla died on the way to hospital.
Alok Madasani, the 32-year-old Indian engineer who survived, told a prayer vigil Sunday that he was suffering profound loss after the death of his dear friend of nine years.
“It’s hard to believe he is not with me, not with us anymore,” Mr Madasani said. “What happened that night is something we all wish didn’t happen, but it happened.”
Throngs of concerned citizens and mourners marched through the Kansas City suburb in memory of Mr Kuchibhotla, and in celebration of Mr Madasani’s survival.
Alok Madasani, wife Reepthi Gangula at the Prayer Vigil at the Ball Conference Center in Olathe, Kansas
The event also honored Ian Grillot, a white bar patron being hailed a hero for trying to help. He is being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds in the chest and hand.
Bundled in winter coats, marchers stretched for blocks down a sidewalk near the city’s Ball Conference Center, holding posters with messages about peace and unity, and chanting slogans such as “Together we stand, divided we fall!” and “Unity is part of community!”
During the rally, the city of Olathe tweeted: “We stand together in our grief; in our support of the victims, their family & friends. And always, we stand together. #OneOlathe.”
Mr Madasani, who had been taken to the hospital after the shooting, was greeted with applause when he hobbled into the room on crutches, and later told the audience about how his friend, whom he would meet at the bar almost weekly, was “always making sure the people around him were happy.”
The ceremony, which opened with Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh prayers, was held at the packed community center, with a large overflow crowd forced to stand outside. It ended with the audience lighting candles and singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”