In a moving testimony that drove many to tears on Wednesday, Harpreet Singh Saini, son of a victim of the Oak Creek Sikh massacre, urged US lawmakers to make attack on Sikhs a hate crime.
“Senators, I came here today to ask the government to give my mother the dignity of being a statistic,” Saini, 18, said at a US senate hearing packed with Sikhs from all over the US.
Saini’s mother Paramjit Kaur Saini was among six Sikhs who were gunned down on August 5 by a white supremacist Wade Michael Page, who then killed himself.
The Sikh community has long been demanding US law enforcement agencies must treat attacks on them as hate-crimes and not simply as unrelated law and order incidents.
US Senate Judiciary subcommittee on rights pressed deposing officials Wednesday why such attacks were not defined as hate crimes and what it will take to change that.
“Why can’t we have a special place for identifying hate crimes against Sikhs?” senator Dick Durbin, chairman of the subcommittee, asked deposing government officials.
“We have heard this concern and we are going to take action with respect to this concern,” said Roy L Austin, deputy assistant attorney general of the US justice department.
Listing down these attacks hate crime makes a difference as it would help law enforcement agencies track trends nationally, and address the crimes in a more organised manner.
“We cannot solve a problem we refuse to recognise,” Saini said.
Saini also said he wants to be part of the solution. He wants to be a law enforcement officer. “I want to protect other people from what happened to my mother,” he said.
His younger brother, Kamal Singh Saini, who was also there at the hearing, said later he too wants to go into law enforcement — “I want to join the FBI.”