Echoing President Barack Obama's call for "soul searching" over Sunday's rampage in a Wisconsin gurdwara, Indian ambassador Nirupama Rao has raised questions about the free use of guns in the United States and problems Sikhs have faced in the country whether "in schools or in the workplace".
While as a foreign diplomat she could not take a position on gun control over the incident that left six worshippers dead, people in India did raise questions about why Sikhs should become "collateral damage" in such violent incidents, she said in an interview with National Public Radio on Thursday.
"But I wanted to say that in India, you know, when we see violence of this nature and we see Sikhs somehow becoming some kind of collateral damage in many senses, obviously, you know, questions do arise about the use of guns in the United States and why all this should happen," she said.
"You know, so when President Obama spoke about soul searching, you know, the need for soul searching on these issues, I think he really hit the nail on the head," said Rao just back from a visit to Oak Creek to meet the families of the shooting victims.
"We need an architecture of soul searching on this," she said. "We really need an architecture, whether it's hate crime, whether it's domestic terrorism."
"Why is it happening? We need some soul searching. Why do acts of violence of this nature happen? We need a mature conversation on that," Rao said when asked about the authorities' decision to treat the Sunday shooting as domestic terrorism rather than hate crime.
While she really did not want to pick holes in the authorities' description of the incident as domestic terrorism, Rao noted that the Sikh community "had talked about the fact that they have encountered problems from time to time when, you know, in let's say in schools or in the workplace."
Rao said when the news broke of the shootings people in India were agitated though at the level of the two governments, the reactions have been very sober, very restrained.
"But when it comes to people, and we live in democracies, you know, they express their emotions freely, and that's what you saw happening. You saw those pictures coming out of India," Rao said.