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FBI must track hate crime against Hindus, Sikhs: Lawmakers

March 25, 2013 12:14 IST

Joining a bi-partisan group of more than 100 lawmakers, prominent Democratic Congressman from California John Garamendi has asked the FBI to track hate crimes against Hindus, Sikhs and the Arab Americans.

"Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, and Arab American communities live with the knowledge that it only takes one unhinged hatemonger to cut their lives short. The FBI needs to keep track of these hate crimes so that we can have an accurate picture of the danger," Garamendi said in a statement as he joined other lawmakers in writing a letter to the FBI in this regard.

The lawmakers had sent a letter to the FBI advisory board last week expressing strong support for an initiative to begin tracking and quantifying hate crimes against Sikh, Hindu and Arab-Americans.

At present, the FBI's Hate Crime Incident Report Form (1-699), which law enforcement officials use to collect data, does not include categories for these groups.

The Advisory Policy Board, which plays a leading role in decision-making on hate crimes documentation, will soon meet to review the issue of whether these categories should be added to hate crimes forms used by the FBI and Department of Justice.

"We Americans will never forget the 2,977 victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks. If I have any say in the matter, we also won't forget the 2,978th victim, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a loving Sikh father shot and killed in Mesa, Arizona on September 15 because his hateful ignorant killer was out for revenge and thought he was a Muslim," said Garamendi.

"Hate divides us; it destroys lives; it destroys the unity our pluralistic democracy needs. Hate crimes aren't just vicious crimes against our neighbours; they attack the core of what makes us American," he said.

These groups have all too often been the victim of violent and deadly attacks, the Congressman said.

Garamendi said that unfortunately, anecdotal and non-government data indicate that the commission of hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arab-Americans has become a deadly problem: the massacre at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and the murder of Hindu Senando Sen on the New York City subway -- along with attacks across the US -- underscore the severity of the issue.

In fact, according to community surveys in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, approximately 10 percent of Sikh-Americans felt they had already been a victim of a hate crime, he said.

The FBI has been tracking and documenting hate crimes reported from federal, state and local law enforcement officials since 1991 under the bipartisan Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 (HCSA).

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