NEW YORK: As many as 26 US Senators have jointly written to Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Robert Mueller, asking to them to order agencies under them to begin tracking hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindu and Arab Americans in the same way other communities are treated in the FBI’s hate crime tracking records.
“We write to respectfully request that you make three additions to the Hate Crime Incident Report form (1-699) as soon as possible. In short, we believe that the form should be revised to collect data on hate crimes motivated by bias against Sikh Americans, Hindu Americans, and Arab Americans,’’ the senators said in their letter to the two federal agencies.
“We urge you to expedite approval of these revisions to the Hate Crime Incident Report form as soon as possible…it is important that the federal government begin tracking information about anti-Sikh, anti-Hindu, and anti-Arab hate crimes as soon as possible so that law enforcement can be more effectively respond to this threat,’’ the letter from the senators said.
Referring to the testimony of a Sikh who lost his mother in the shooting at the Oak Creek Sikh temple in August before a Senate subcommittee on Sept 19, the letter said, “Among the witnesses who testified at the hearing was Harpreet Singh Saini, who lost his mother in the horrific massacre at the Sikh gurdwara at Oak Creek, Wisconsin. He testified that he came to the hearing `to ask the government to give his mother the dignity of being a statistic’ because `we cannot solve a problem we refuse to recognize’.’’
The letter said all those who testified before the Senate subcommittee wanted the FBI to revise the Hate Crime Incident Report form to include categories for crimes motivated by anti-Sikh, anti-Hindu and anti-Arab bias. “The addition of these categories is necessary to respond to hate crimes against Sikh Americans, Hindu Americans and Arab Americans with accurate measurements of those crimes,’’ the senators said in their signed letter to the two agencies.
According to the Sikh Coalition, which has been spearheading the campaign on hate crimes, the FBI is due to make a decision on this issue by June.
A subdivision of the FBI, known as the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), collects statistics about crime in the US, including hate crimes, and publishes statistics annually to help guide policymaking and law enforcement resource allocation. If data collection on hate crime is improved, as recommended to the FBI by a CJIS advisory body, tracking such crimes against Sikh, Hindu and Arab American will become easier.
Surveys have shown that one in every 10 American Sikhs has experienced hate crimes since 9/11, according to the Sikh Coalition which lobbies for human rights.
Over 40 US Congressmen, including Indian-origin Ami Bera and Tulsi Gabbard, have signed a similar letter to be given to the FBI and the Department of Justice on investigating US hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arab Muslims.