Foundation Calls for Swift Justice in Hate Crime against Hindu Man in NY Subway
Washington, D.C. (December 30, 2012) - Hindu Americans reacted with shock and sorrow at the death of Sunando Sen, a 46-year-old Hindu man from India, who was pushed in front of an oncoming subway train in Queens, New York last week. Sen, described as gentle and respectful by one of his roommates, had recently opened up a copying business, after years of saving money.
Police have arrested 31-year-old Erika Menendez in connection with the case, and charged her with second-degree murder as a hate crime.
The defendant reportedly targeted Sen out of hatred for Hindus and Muslims and told police: "I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I've been beating them up." Menendez, apparently, was ignorant about the identity of the victim, the difference between the Hindu and Muslim religions, and the events surrounding 9/11.
"Such a violent and hateful attack on any individual, especially because of religious hatred is completely unconscionable in any society" said Suhag Shukla, Esq., Executive Director and Legal Counsel for the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). "While we are encouraged by the arrest of Menendez and the Queens district attorney charging her with a hate crime, we are closely monitoring the situation to ensure that justice is swiftly dispensed in this case."
Although not frequently reported, this incident is not an isolated event, said Shukla. This is part of an unfortunate history of bias and hate crimes against Hindu Americans -- the high profile 1980s case of a gang calling itself the "Dot Busters" which openly attacked Hindu Americans in New Jersey being a prime example.
Sen's death has also refocused attention on efforts by HAF, and several other religious liberty and faith-based advocacy groups, to urge the FBI to add three new anti-religious bias hate crime categories: (1) anti-Hindu, (2) anti-Sikh, and (3) anti-Arab.
Just two weeks ago, HAF formally submitted comments to the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board, specifically focusing on the importance of creating an anti-Hindu hate crime category and its significance for tracking hate crimes against Hindu American institutions and individuals. And in the wake of the massacre at the Sikh gurudwara in Wisconsin, the Foundation submitted written on the record testimony to a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing spearheaded by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).
"The horrifying attack on Sunando Sen only further underscores the urgent need for the FBI to separately collect data on anti-Hindu hate crimes," said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF's Director and Senior Fellow for Human Rights. "This step is critical for both the protection of Hindu Americans and the ability of law enforcement to effectively track and confront such crimes."