Indian-American lawmakers seek DOJ briefing on surge in crimes against Hindus in US

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Indian-American lawmakers seek DOJ briefing on surge in crimes against Hindus in US

Tuesday, 02 April 2024 | PTI | Washington

Indian-American lawmakers seek DOJ briefing on surge in crimes against Hindus in US

Five Indian-American lawmakers have asked the United States Department of Justice and the FBI for a briefing on a surge in "hate crimes targeting Hindus" and vandalism of temples in the country this year.

"Attacks at mandirs from New York to California have contributed to increased collective anxiety among Hindu Americans," the lawmakers -- Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna, Shri Thanedar, Pramila Jayapal and Ami Bera -- wrote to Kristen Clarke of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

"Leaders from these impacted communities have expressed there are unfortunately 'no leads' on suspects, leaving many to continue to live in fear and intimidation. Our communities remain concerned about law enforcement coordination regarding these bias-motivated crimes, and they are left wondering if there is appropriate federal oversight to ensure equal protection under the law," they said.

There are five Indian-American lawmakers in the current House of Representatives. This is one of the rare occasions when all five have come together on an issue.

"The number of incidents and the closeness of the timing of incidents raise troubling questions about linkages and the intent behind them," the letter read.

"It takes relatively few coordinated acts of hate to create fear within a community that has often been marginalized or neglected, and we must work collaboratively to combat hate against all religious, ethnic, racial, and cultural minorities in America. We therefore request that you provide us with an understanding of what the Department's strategy is specifically concerning hate crimes targeting Hindus in the United States," the lawmakers wrote.

Noting that they have observed an alarming increase in incidents of vandalism in houses of worship across the country, including at Hindu temples, the Indian-American elected representatives requested a briefing on the status of investigations concerning these crimes to better understand existing law enforcement coordination between local agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Civil Rights Division.

"Given the urgency of the situation, we ask that you provide us with a briefing no later than Thursday, April 18th," they wrote in the letter dated March 29 which was released to the media on April 1.

The move has been welcomed by Indian-American leaders.

"In Q1 2024, we witnessed a sudden spike in vandalism as well as thefts in temples in America... Against the backdrop of local officials often failing to investigate the cases to find the culprits, we thank the Indian-American House of Representatives for asking the FBI and DOJ to investigate," said Khanderao Kand, chief of policy and strategy at the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS).

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