[Before the cremation, the family washed and prepared the body of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, outside their home in a gated community near Hyderabad called Bachupally. The victim’s wife, Sunayana Dumala, and his elderly mother wept openly and the older woman had to be revived after fainting.]
By Ashish Pandey and Paul Schemm
Relatives carry the body of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed
by a gunman in Kansas, for his funeral in Hyderabad on Tuesday.
(Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)
HYDERABAD, India — Hundreds of mourning relatives joined government ministers Tuesday at funeral rites for an Indian engineer killed in Kansas by a shotgun-wielding gunman spewing racial epithets.
The somber gathering in southern India — nearly a week after the shooting — also took on political overtones in response to a perceived anti-foreigner wave in the United States linked to President Trump’s “America-first” policies.
The mother of the slain engineer begged her other son not to return to the United States, and two politicians turned up with signs that said “Down with Trump” and “Xenophobia in any form is unacceptable.”
Before the cremation, the family washed and prepared the body of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, outside their home in a gated community near Hyderabad called Bachupally. The victim’s wife, Sunayana Dumala, and his elderly mother wept openly and the older woman had to be revived after fainting.
She said she feared letting her other son, Sai Kishore, return to the United States, where he also lives.
“I will not allow him to go back. I don’t want to lose another son,” the mother, Vardhini Parvatha wailed. A truck carried the body to the cremation ground about 23 miles away, where over 200 had gathered.
Family members held the bier aloft, covered with roses.
A decade-long resident of the United States who worked at the aviation systems department of the Garmin technology firm, Kuchibhotla was shot dead Wednesday by a suspect who later said he believed he and a companion were of Middle Eastern descent.
Kuchibhotla and his friend Alok Madasani, 32, were in the crowded Austin’s Bar and Grill watching a basketball game when the suspect, described as inebriated, opened fire on them. Madasani was wounded, as was another patron who attempted to intervene.
The family members gathered at the parent’s home to mourn Kuchibhotla and express fear over the fate of other Indians living in the United States.
Locals have linked the rise of racism in the United States to President Trump’s election.
“We are all middle class and lower middle class people and we send our children abroad with hope,” said M. Rajkumar, president of an association for parents of Indians living abroad. “Many of our young prefer to go to America for higher education. . . . Now the situation has changed after Trump has become president of the United States, racism is high and this incident is a clear example.”
Kuchibhotla earned a Master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Texas in El Paso in 2007 before becoming a software engineer at Rockwell Collins in Iowa, said his brother Kiran. He later moved to Garmin in 2014, which is based in Olathe, Kansas.
“The entire family was happy that both Srinivas and his wife, Sunayana Dumala, were doing well in the U.S. and after six years of marriage they were planning to have a baby this year,” said Kiran. “And all of a sudden this happened — we are shattered.”
The body arrived from the United States at Hyderabad airport late Monday night where it was received by several officials from the local states as well as lawmakers.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which runs the national government, has said that the safety of Indians residing in the United States will be raised with the U.S. government.
“We express our anguish and grief over the unfortunate incident in which a great, hard-working, committed young man lost his life,” said the party general secretary, Muralidhar Rao. “People working in America are apprehensive about their security.”
Some 300,000 Indians work in the United States on special H-1B high-skilled visas, largely in the software and tech industries. The Trump administration has talked about limiting the program.
Schemm reported from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Annie Gowen in New Delhi contributed to this report.