Kuchib­hotla’s widow hopes to hear a Trump speech ‘wel­com­ing to all’

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - - World - Yash­want Raj yash­want.raj@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.”

AP FILE

Srini­vas Kuchib­hotla and Su­nayana Du­mala

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