Washington: In a disturbing incident, a 41-year-old Indian-origin executive died after he was assaulted outside a restaurant in downtown Washington a few days ago, according to investigators. This is the sixth death incident of an Indian-origin individual that has led to worries about a spree of targeted incidents.
The victim was identified as Vivek Taneja, who was found on the pavement of 15th Street Northwest outside Shoto Restaurant around 2 am after an assault report on February 2. According to a preliminary investigation, Taneja and an unknown man were involved in a verbal argument that turned physical, according to local reports. During the brawl, Taneja was knocked to the ground and hit his head on the pavement.
The victim succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday and Washington police have initiated a homicide probe into his death. The attacker was captured on surveillance camera and the police continued to search for him. Additionally, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) sought the public’s assistance in identifying and locating the suspect.
According to MPD documents, officers responded to the location for the report of an assault, where they located an adult male suffering from life-threatening injuries as a result of an assault. The Department has offered a reward for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people involved.
This comes days after a disturbing video emerged on social media showing Hyderabad student Syed Mazahir Ali being attacked by robbers. Ali sought help from the Indian government after the incident.
Deaths of Indian-origin students in US
Indian students in the US have hit the headlines following their tragic deaths. In 2024 alone, at least five students were killed wherein two were Indians and the other three were US nationals but of Indian origin. Earlier this week, a 23-year-old man was found dead at Indiana’s Purdue University. The student was identified as Sameer Kamath. However, later the administration claimed he died of suicide and denied any foul play.
Vivek Saini, another Indian student from Haryana, was hammered to death by a homeless drug addict in Georgia state’s Lithonia city. Saini, a part-time clerk at a store that sheltered Faulkner, had shown kindness to the accused for almost two days and provided him with chips, a coke, water, and even a jacket for warmth. Later, the death of another Indian student Shreyas Reddy Benigeri was reported from the Ohio region. According to the Indian Embassy in New York, a police investigation was underway but no foul play was suspected.
In December, Neel Acharya, an Indian student in the United States studying at Indiana’s Purdue University, went missing and his body was discovered last month. On February 1, the Indian Embassy in New York said that an 18-year-old Indian-American student, Akul B Dhawan, at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was found dead last month with signs of hypothermia.
Recently, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in Lok Sabha that a total of 403 Indian students have died in foreign countries since 2018 due to various reasons including natural causes, accidents and medical conditions. He told the House that Canada had the highest number of deaths of Indian students at 91, while the United Kingdom followed second with 48 cases.
US envoy responds to deaths of Indian-origin students
US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti on Friday, acknowledged the “unfortunate” deaths of Indian students and emphasised that the President Joe Biden-led government would make sure to make the country a wonderful place to study while keeping the safety agenda on top priority. “We are very committed to making sure that Indians know that the United States is a wonderful place to study and to be safe,” he said.
Garcetti admitted that tragedies could happen in any corner of the world but emphasised that the US has been the favoured destination for Indian students for education. He said it was the duty of the American government to work collaboratively with their Indian counterpart to ensure the safety of the diaspora staying in the US.
According to a report by The Open Doors– an institute that keeps a record of international students and scholars in the United States and American students studying abroad– the number of Indian students in the US has reached an all-time high of 2,68,923 in the academic year 2022-2023. This is a 35 per cent increase from the previous year.
(with inputs from PTI)
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