Ritu Jha –
Indian Americans expressed solidarity to the families of the 40 troops killed in the February 14 Pulwama terrorist attack by holding candlelight vigils, peaceful protests and fundraisers.
Past Saturday on February 23, over 500 people from 24 community organizations from the San Francisco Bay Area hosted a candlelight vigil in San Ramon, shouting “Jai Hind” and displaying Indian flags and posters condemning the attack on the Central Reserve Police Office personnel.
Raviraj Pangal, who took the initiative to host the event with support from the city of San Ramon and its police department, said he was encouraged with the quick support the city provided and the fact that so many organizations have come together.
“This shows how united we stand for the nation,” Pangal told indica.
“The Indian government would come up with the right solutions” to such attacks, he said. “But in any case, such kind of terrorism is not appreciated, wherever it is, whether India, US or any other place.”
Sridhar Verose, commissioner of San Ramon Parks and Community Services, said people commiserated with the Indians there.
“I don’t see any bad comments against any country and we have friends from different countries here. They all understand why people are sad and why they want to mourn,” he said. “We are all citizen of the United States but our heart is also with India.”
He said that in honor of the CRPF personnel and the community San Ramon city hall was lighted in orange, green and white, the colors of the Indian flag.
“Placing the Indian tri-color lights on the building shows the city’s commitment to its diverse community,” he said.
Uthra Pangal, Raviraj’s wife, had once tried to join the Indian army but was not selected.
“I always am moved and when such things happen. It’s heinous, not just for our community for any community and people should condemn it,” she said. “We need a solution to this problem.”
San Ramon police posted on Facebook: “It was a privilege to attend the candlelight vigil to honor the Central Reserve Police Force officers whose lives were lost in the attack by a suicide bomber on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway in India.”
Chandrashekhar Wagh of the Coalition of Indian-Americans against Terrorism was there with representatives of 30 other organizations that hosted a vigil in San Jose, February 18.
“The most disheartening thing about the Pulwama attack, besides the tragic loss of so many Indian lives, is the number of people that are hurt or killed each year across the world due to terrorism,” he said. “This is not just an Indian issue; it is a global problem.” Wagh said, “Whether or not military action is taken against Pakistan will be rightly decided by the Indian government. However, it is the duty of each and every world citizen to stand up when China, Pakistan, or any other government support or sponsors terrorism or hatred against any other country, entity, or individual.”
Members of the Gujarat Samaj gathered at the Sardar Patel Bhavan in Tucker, Georgia to protest the attack on the CRPF personnel.
The National Federation of Indian American Associations also strongly condemned the attack and called for heavy punishment.
Meanwhile, various fundraisers have been floated to help the victims’ families across the US by Indian American individuals groups and the Indian government as well.
In support and solidarity with the martyrs of Pulwama terrorist attack, the consul general of India in San Francisco has announced through a press note that members of the Indian Community/PIOs/NRI, who wish to contribute to the cause but are facing difficulty in contributing through the website https://bharatkeveer.gov.in as they do not have Indian credit cards, could contribute through a check drawn in favor of “Bharat Ke Veer,” Foreign checks drawn in favor of “Bharat Ke Veer” would be acceptable. The website also permits international credit/debit card holders to contribute.