The fear of racial attacks and the uncertainty over short-term visa for skilled workers are two definite concerns for India in Donald Trump’s America. But the recent attacks against people of Indian origin in the US left in their wake another conundrum for India in its diplomatic dealings with the country, especially when it comes to offering and accepting consular help.
Consular help — an Indian mission official meeting the person in need with assistance — is sought and granted after verifying his or her nationality.
But the prevailing situation in the US, the media gaze and the political compulsions of the Indian government, makes the normal process a tenuous affair to follow.
The NDA government, which doesn’t want to be accused of any inaction, rushed consular officers to the spot though the victims of the attacks in last two cases were American citizens, albeit people of Indian origin.
Three people, one Indian national and two Indian-origin US citizens were attacked in that country recently.
An Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, became the first victim of the hate crime in the US. He was killed when 51-year-old US Navy veteran Adam Purinton opened fire at him and his friend Alok Madasani at a bar before yelling “get out of my country.”
It seemed a clear case of hate crime against the Indian national.
Then came to the light the death of 43-year-old Harnish Patel, an owner of a convenience store, in Lancaster County, South Carolina. He was found killed by gunshot wounds in the courtyard of his home on Thursday. Patel was a US national and the county officials are of the view that what had happened looked like a burglary attempt gone wrong and further investigations are on. But India rushed consular officers to the spot.
In a third incident, an Indian-origin Sikh man was shot at in his driveway in Kent in Washington district by a masked assailant who shouted at him to “go back to your own country”.
The Indian embassy in Washington swung into action and identified the victim as Deep Rai, 39 – again an American national.
The situation is tricky for the government. The fabled melting pot that US has been is now seeing attacks on brown-skinned people. Irrespective of their nationality, an Indian origin person is an Indian for most. For the Modi government which takes immense pride in its diaspora — both non-resident Indians and people of Indian origin, the prevailing situation leaves it with not too many options either.