Concerned over spurt in attacks on Sikhs, Hindus and other minorities in America, the US justice department has asked FBI to track hate crimes against them.
Terming bullying and harassment of Sikh children as a "serious problem", a top official of the Justice Department has recommended that crimes against Sikhs and Hindus should be added to the religion-based hate crimes tracked by the FBI to help law enforcement officials tackle the problem.
The extra-ordinary gesture by the administration has come in the wake of Sikhs petitioning the Congress asking that hate crimes against their religion be started to be traced by the federal agency.
The petition by the Sikhs comes in the aftermath of the August 5 shooting spree at a Gurudwara in Oak Creek in Wisconsin in which six worshippers were killed and four others left injured.
Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division Tom Perez said there is "strong support" from interfaith groups for adding anti-Sikh, anti-Hindu and anti-Arab to the hate crime categories tracked by FBI's Uniform Crime Report.
Perez visited Oak Creek last week and met with members and leaders of the Wisconsin Gurdwara. The official attended a town hall meeting hosted by the Justice Department where 22 diverse religious and interfaith groups discussed how religion-based hate crimes are tracked by the FBI's Uniform Crime Report.
Based on the meeting and the division's law enforcement experiences, the division and the Community Relations Service has made a recommendation that crimes against Sikhs and Hindus be added to the coding sheets that police fill out and the hate crime reports the FBI produces each year.