Relatives of Mradulaben Patel who succumbed to bullet injuries after an attempted robbery at a store she co-owned at South Carolina are annoyed that the Indian government has not taken up the issue of the frequent attacks on the community in the US.
At Patel’s ancestral house in Dharamdas-ni-Khadki locality in Tarapur town of Anand district a relative Minal Patel who looks after her mother-in-law Taraba, said, “When a US citizen is murdered or raped in India, the US government raises hell over the incident, but the Indian government remains indifferent to the killings of Indian residents in the USA, which is something we do not understand. We want (PM) Narendra Modi to please talk to Obama and ask for his assurance over the safety of Indian residents”.
Every house in this locality of Tarapur town with around 60 houses has at least one member living abroad. The Charotar region, comprising parts of Anand and Kheda districts of which Tarapur is a part, has high concentration of people settled abroad. This is the fourth incident of the murder of an NRI from this region in the last three months.
Amit Patel, a youth from Uttarsanda village was killed in Edison in US on February 15, followed by the murder of Ashish Patel (40), from Samrakha region, also in Charotar, who was killed in North Carolina on March 23 this year. Then again on April 7, a yet another NRI from Borsad was killed in New Haven City in US.
Mradulaben, who had moved to South Carolina along with her husband and the family of his three other brothers in 2000, was looking after the store business that she started six years ago. She is survived by her husband, Pravinbhai Patel, and their son and daughter. The last she visited India was two years ago for her son’s marriage. Her son, a dentist, lives in London.
Mradulaben’s relatives received a call on Friday night, a few hours after the she was shot in the face by a customer over what appeared to be an attempted robbery. The incident took place minutes before she was planning to down the shutter of her store. They received another call late Saturday night, informing them of Mradulaben’s death.
“She had herself planned the store and took great care of it. She would visit India less often after she started running the store six years ago. She was among my most caring daughters-in-law,” said her mother-in-law, Taraba Patel, who flies to the US on May 12, a visit planned much before the incident took place. “I wish I could go there earlier. But since I have to accompany a family friend, I cannot change the plan,” she says.
The frequency of attacks on Indians has come as a matter of great concern for the locals. Charotar has a very high concentration of NRIs, who live and do business all over the world, including the US. Mradulaben’s father’s house at Dharmaj, situated some 15 km from Tarapur, has some members of nearly all of the 3,000-odd families living abroad.
Nainesh Patel, a clerk at the Panchayat office of Dharmaj, said he learnt about the incident through a Facebook post. “The victim’s brother also lives in the US and their house in Dharmaj remains locked all the time. The incident has come as a shock to the residents of Dharmaj village,” said Patel.