Indian Americans across the US hold candle light vigils for Pulwama victims

Members of the Gujarati Samaj in Atlanta holding a candlelight vigil at the Sardar Patel Bhavan in Tucker, GA, to pay tributes to victims of the Pulwama attack in India.
Members of the Gujarati Samaj in Atlanta holding a candlelight vigil at the Sardar Patel Bhavan in Tucker, GA, to pay tributes to victims of the Pulwama attack in India. Image via Facebook

Several Indian American groups condemn the attack; many organizations and individuals are holding fundraisers.

The Indian American community from coast to coast is expressing solidarity with families of Indian paramilitary personnel who lost their lives in a suicide attack in the Pulwama region of Jammu and Kashmir. From candle-light vigils to peaceful protests to fundraisers to help the affected family members, there are reactions coming from across the United States.

Forty members of India’s Central Reserve Police Force were killed on February 14, 2019, when a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kilograms of explosives into their bus. A Pakistan-based terror group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed responsibility for the attack.

In the Atlanta area, members of the local Gujarat Samaj gathered at the Sardar Patel Bhavan in Tucker, GA, over the weekend to hold candlelight vigil. The event was organized as a mark of protest and to pay tributes to the CRPF men who lost their lives.

RELATED: US lawmakers strongly condemn terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district (February 17, 2019)

In Sacramento, California, home to a large population of Indian Americans, similar vigils are planned this week. The Indian Association of Sacramento (IAS) is organizing a candlelight vigil on February 20, at the Lakshmi Narayan Temple to honor the slain soldiers. The aim of the vigil is to show support for India and mourn the lost lives.

Several Indian American organizations across the United States have released statements condemning the attack, and signaling their intention to contribute to help the bereaved CRPF families cope with their loss.

In Chicago, big peaceful protests are planned over the next few days to build international support toward the cause of ending violence in South Asia.

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a non-profit advocacy organization for the Hindu American community, released a statement. Its Managing Director Samir Kalra stated: “This latest attack by Jaish-e-Mohammed is sadly another example of how Pakistan’s intelligence services continue to sponsor terrorist incursions into India. While it’s heartening to see that a wide swath of the international community is unequivocally condemning the attack, such statements of solidarity must be backed up by actions which help bring to an end the ability of such terrorist groups to kill with impunity and destabilize the region.”

RELATED: Pulwama: Indian American community to hold peaceful protest outside Pakistan Consulate in Chicago on Feb. 19 (February 18, 2019)

The National Federation of Indian American Associations said in a statement: “An act of terrorism cannot and should not go without heavy punishments for those who cowardly use suicidal personnel to carry out such barbaric activities. NFIA strongly condemns this act and offer condolences to the families of 44 paramilitary personnel families. The community is engaged in holding meetings and paying their tributes to the Martyrs. Washington DC and Los Angeles [which have a] lot of Indian families are planning to offer assistance to the families of these [soldiers].”

Various fundraisers have been floated to help the victims’ families across the US by individuals and organizations.

US lawmakers and other officials have also condemned the attack and expressed support to India. “We send our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims,” US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster said in a statement. “The United States stands alongside India in confronting terror and defeating it.”

US National Security Advisor John Bolton offered all assistance to India to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice. Bolton posted on his Twitter account on Saturday: “I expressed condolences to NSA Doval yesterday for the reprehensible terrorist attack on India. Pakistan must crack down on JeM and all terrorists operating from its territory. Countries should uphold UNSC responsibilities to deny safe haven and support for terrorists.”

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