The shooting has come as a shock to all of us living here. Olathe city is a short drive from Overland Park, where I stay. We have all been there during the weekend.
Indians or South Asians, for that matter, have never been victims of any hate crime before. There might have been some stray cases of discrimination here and there but that’s about it.
My Indian friends and I often hang out at pubs during weekends but have never felt threatened before.
Of late though, after the recent elections, there is a sense of anxiety among immigrants. Many of us have wondered what will happen to those who do not have citizenship.
Nobody has said anything, but there is a lot of apprehension. Many of my friends have applied for green cards in recent months. In fact the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has seen a jump in applications for green cards and citizenship in recent months.
Incidents like the one in Olathe are very disturbing. Though small, the Indian community in Kansas is close knit and has set up their associations. They come together to celebrate festivals like Durga Puja and Diwali. The Durga Puja organised by the Kansas Bengali Association has become very popular over the years, with people coming from adjoining states to participate in the festivities.
There is a thriving Indian community in the city, with a majority of them employed in the IT and retail sector. According to the 2010 census, of the 173,000 population of Overland Park, Indians constitute 5,521. The majority (84%) of the population are whites.
I have been living in Overland Park, the second-most populous city in Kansas, since May 2014. Most of us living here will like to believe that the shooting is an isolated incident. Kansas, especially our work places, is very multi-cultural. We visit the homes of our local colleagues and vice-versa. Many of my local friends have taken a liking for Indian food.
In fact, we often discuss that it’s the Second Amendment allowing citizens to possess guns that is more an issue of concern than anything else.
Such an incident will only add to our anxiety. I just hope it’s one of those stray incidents that will not get repeated.
(Anirban Dasgupta, works in an IT firm in Overland Park, Kansas)