In the wake of violent attacks, Indian community in St. Louis mobilizes, raises awareness

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BALLWIN, MO (KTVI) The Indian community in St. Louis is mobilizing in response to violent, hate-driven attacks in other cities.

“When there’s an incident like this, either locally or nationally, we as a community need to have some kind of a first response,” Uma Segal, of the India Association of St. Louis said.

Segal and Aruna Tailor moderated a discussion about intolerance and hate crimes.

The event, held Saturday afternoon at the Mahatma Gandhi Center in Ballwin, was in response to the shootings of two Indian men in Olathe, Kansas.

The FBI is investigating that incident as a hate crime because witnesses report Adam Purinton yelled, “Get out of my country” before opening fire. Police said Purinton shot Alok Madasani and Srinivas Kuchibhotia. Both men came to the U.S. from India.

The community is also monitoring the investigation into the shooting of a Sikh man in Washington state. Police are searching for the gunman, who neighbors say confronted the victim and yelled at him, “Go back to your country.”

“It was definitely very, very concerning,” Dr. Gurprakash Grewal said. Grewal, a physician, immigrated from India to the U.S. more than 30 years ago, and said it is not uncommon for people to draw false conclusions when they see his beard and turban, hallmarks of the Sikh faith.

“I stand out. I have a turban, and everybody sees me and I get pointed out,” he said. “That is where I have tried to educate as many people that come my way, as to who we are.”

The India Association of St. Louis said it is exploring long-term strategies about what resources are available to them.

“We as a South Asian community will have to become more visible and be able to engage in a broader sense,” Aruna Tailor said.

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