Kuchibhotla’s widow hopes to hear a Trump speech ‘welcoming to all’
WASHINGTON : When President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday night, Sunayana Dumala, an Indian who will be in the visitors’ gallery, says she will be hoping to hear a speech that is both “positive and welcoming to all”.
Dumala’s husband, infotech engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was killed in Olathe, Kansas, on February 22, 2017 in a hate crime that Trump had condemned in the opening minutes of his first joint address to Congress (which was technically not a State of the Union address despite the same stage props).
“I am hoping it (the speech) to be positive and welcoming to all from different walks of life,” Dumala, 33, said in an email interview. She is attending the speech as a guest of Kevin Yoder, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from her district.
But that’s not why Dumala accepted Yoder’s invitation, which she acknowledged was in line with his efforts to “spread a positive message of unity and friendship to the immigrant community - that all of us are welcomed here in America to live our dreams”.
Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and his colleague, also an Indian, sustained bullet injuries when a white man, Adam Purinton, opened fire in a crowded suburban bar. Purinton thought they were Middle Easterners and was heard telling them to “get out of my country” at the time of the shooting.
Dumala believes her presence at the State of the Union address will “shine a national spotlight” on the message of inclusivity, welcoming and accepting immigrants.
She didn’t mention it but it certainly drew from her personal experience and her husband’s.
They both separately came to the US as students.
They met online, fell in love and married, with their parents’ consent, in a traditional ceremony in their hometown of Hyderabad, surrounded by friends and family.
“I would like to use the opportunity to reiterate my message of spreading love, and about diversity and inclusion, with a belief that love and empathy will prevail. It is a rare opportunity and honour to receive,” Dumala said.
She added, “Being there would also give me an opportunity to honour my beloved Srinu (her nickname for Kuchibhotla) and continue his legacy.”
Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Sunayana Dumala