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Barely two weeks after an Indian engineer became victim of hate crime in Kansas in the US, another NRI businessman of Gujarati origin has been shot dead in Lancaster in South Carolina. Harnish Patel, who ran Speedee Mart in Lancaster had closed his shop on Thursday, and was close to his house when an unidentified assailant opened fire at him, killing him on the spot. Harnish, 43, who originally hails from Avakhal village in Sinor taluka of Vadodara district had been living in the US with his family for over 14 years.
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Patel’s killing comes just two days after US President Donald Trump condemned the killing of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in a pub in Kansas. According to reports, officials of Lancaster police say that they are yet to ascertain a motive behind Harnish’s killing, which appears to be ‘racially motivated’.
Harnish, who owned the convenience store Speedee Mart in Lancaster is survived by wife Sonal and son Siddhansh.
According to Patel’s extended family in Avakhal, Harnish’s parents–father Jayanti and mother Tara–had moved along with the couple to the US in 2003. A member of the village said, “The last time they came here was a few years ago for a wedding in the family. We were not much in touch with them.”
Harnish’s maternal uncle Ramesh, who lives in Avakhal said he was “too shocked to speak about the tragic loss in the family.” Ramesh said that the family was in regular touch with Harnish’s father, Jayanti. Since Harnish and Sonal’s parents had moved to the US several years ago to live with the couple, the family has decided to perform his last rites in the US, Ramesh added.
Raising the issue of the killings of Indians in the US, GPCC President Bharat Solanki has written to Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, drawing her attention to the matter. Solanki said, “It has shocked me beyond measure as the Gujarati business community has always been part and parcel of the American life with absolutely no conflicts and plenty of mutually shared interests. This kind of incidents shake the foundation of confidence that the Indian community is used to. I urge the Prime Minister of India and you to take up this issue with the administration of President Trump and promise to ensure the safety and security of Indians and Gujarati diaspora in the US.”