MAPLE SHADE, South Jersey: A woman techie from Andhra Pradesh and her 7-year-old son were found dead in their home in New Jersey on March 23 evening.
N Sasikala, 38, and the child were stabbed “multiple times”, US law enforcement officials said but ruled out that the brutal killings were hate crime. Her husband, N Hanumantha Rao, reportedly told the police that he discovered their bodies when he returned home from work around 9 pm.
Indian-American community leader Prasad Thotakura claimed that Rao allegedly found his wife and child “in a pool of blood” and “with their throats slit”. But in India, Ms Sasikala’s mother, Krishna Kumari, told news agency ANI: “We suspect that they have been murdered following an affair of my son-in-law with another woman there.”
Rao and Ms Sasikala both were software professionals and had lived in the US for 12 years. She worked from home and reportedly picked up her son from school before they headed home.
The killing was raised in parliament on March 24. “This is a serious matter. This is very dangerous. Just two weeks back, two Indians were killed and now two more people have been killed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi must take it up with the President of America,” said Congress Rajya Sabha member T Subbarami Reddy.
Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien asked for Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to be alerted about the killing. In a news briefing, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said, “We are in touch with US authorities who are trying to ascertain the details in the matter. As and when we have details, will let you know.”
In the Lok Sabha, YV Subba Reddy of the YSR Congress Party asked the government to take a “very strong stand” in protecting Indians in the US.
“It’s a case of racial discrimination” and such incidents on the rise since Donald Trump became the US President, he said. “It is high time we take up these issues strongly with the US,” he added.
Local authorities however denied a racial motivation to the crime. “Contrary to some media reports, at this point there is no indication that this is a hate crime connected to the fact that the victims are of Indian origin,” Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement to Press Trust of India.
This is the latest in a series of recent attacks on Indians in the US. On March 2 Harnish Patel, a US national of Indian origin, was shot dead. On March 4, Deep Rai, a US national of Indian origin, was shot by an unknown person in Kent near Seattle. Telangana’s aeronautical engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed on February 23 when Adam W. Purinton, who earlier served in the US Navy, shot him in Olathe, Kansas. Vamshi Reddy Mamidala, also from Telangana, was shot dead in Milpitas, California, on February 10 in a garage in his apartment building.
Expressing concern over the security of Indians in the US, the Indian government went on record saying the attacks on Indians in the US are “hate crimes” and not a simple law and order issue. “We do not treat these incidents as law and order matter. It is not as simple as that. From our side, we are saying that these are 100 per cent incidents of hate crime,” said the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the Parliament.
(With inputs from agencies)