A lawmaker in the United States has invited Sunayana Dumala, the widow of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was murdered last year, to attend the maiden State of the Union address by US President Donald Trump.
"Sunayana is a very powerful symbol of who our system is failing. One of the reasons I’ve become so passionate about this issue is that we need to send a message to the Indian community and other immigrant groups that we are a loving country, welcome to all," Congressman Kevin Yoder posted on social media.
Yoder, a Republican, is a member of the Congressional caucus on India and Indian-Americans, and the address will be delivered by Trump on January 30.
Srinivas (32) was killed and his friend Alok Madasani was injured when Adam Purinton, a white man who earlier served in the US Navy, shot them at the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas State on February 22 last year.
In a recent interview to a Kansas-based media outlet, Sunayana said, “I can’t let people forget him. That is what is making me spread his legacy, and I hope I’m getting there. I hope I succeed and the name Srinivas Kuchibhotla stays there forever. People can forget me, but not forget him.”
Yoder had earlier helped Sunayana out with her visa, when she was almost about to be deported from the country. Srinivas was on an H1B visa, while Sunayana was on an H4 dependent visa.
Yoder heard of Sunayana's case when she said that she planned to return to the US to 'fulfill Srinivas' dream' in a Facebook post, after she had travelled to Hyderabad for her husband's funeral.
“We are not going to deport the widow of the victim of a hate crime,” Yoder was quoted as saying.
Stating that he was the sponsor of a bill that could speed up permanent resident status of well-educated and skilled immigrants, Yoder highlighted Sunayana's case.
"Right here in the Third District, Sunayana Dumala lost her husband Srinivas in the tragic shooting at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe — a senseless murder no one should ever have to endure. But, because of these unfair backlogs, Sunayana was faced with the prospect of having to return home to India because of her visa status. Thankfully, we were able to help her stay for now and are working towards a permanent fix, but if our bill had already been signed into law, she would likely have already gained permanent residence and would not have faced the threat of deportation on top of the horrific loss of her loving husband," the Congressman said in a Facebook post last year.
During the incident last year, Purinton reportedly got into a row with the victims and hurled racial slurs. He yelled "Get out of my country" and "terrorist" before shooting them. American Ian Grillot was also injured in the attack when he tried to intervene.
In March last year, the Governor of Kansas declared March 16 as "Indian American Appreciation Day" to honour Srinivas Kuchibhotla.
Meanwhile, Purinton was charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.