The killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla has come as yet another blow to Telugu community in the US and has brought the focus on a series of tragedies that have struck immigrants from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in recent times. More than 600,000 Telugus are estimated to be living in the US. Many youths are pursuing advanced degrees and have become successful software professional, engineers, doctors and business managers.
Kuchibhotla of Hyderabad was killed and his colleague Alok Madasani from Warangal district in Telangana was injured in the shooting in a bar in Olathe, Kansas. In what is suspected to be the first incident of its nature after President Donald Trump assumed office, a former Navy serviceman opened fire as he reportedly yelled "Middle Easterners, get out of my country" in what is seen as a case of mistaken identity.
The two engineers were working as aviation programme managers at Garmin, a MNC.
Kuchibhotla, 32, is the second man from Telangana to die in a shootout in the US this month.
Software engineer Vamshi Reddy Mamidala was shot dead in Milpitas, California, on February 10, by an offender in the garage of his apartment building.
The 27-year-old, who hailed from Warangal district, died when the assailant opened fire while fleeing after robbing a woman.
The two incidents are not in isolation. More than 30 techies and students from the two Telugu states have died since 2008, victims of crime or accidents.
The young dreams were cut short by the disasters that hit one of the largest groups among the Indian community in the US.
In December last year, Chunduri Sai Tejaswi, a 23-year-old student from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, was killed after she was hit by a speeding vehicle while crossing the road in Fremont's Niles District.
Earlier in July, Sankeerth, 25, of Hyderabad was murdered by his roommate, also an Indian, in Austin, Texas.
In June 2016, Hyderabad's Namboori Sridatta (25), who was working with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in Arizona, drowned while picnicking with friends at a waterfall.
Early last year, Shiva Karan, a 23-year-old student from Hyderabad, committed suicide, reportedly due to depression. He was pursuing a master's programme in Raleigh of North Carolina State University.
In June 2015, Sai Kiran, 23, of Hyderabad was shot dead by a robber in Florida after he refused to part with his mobile phone.
Sai Kiran was pursuing his MS from Atlantic University and had left India only a month and a half back.
In a similar case in 2014, Elaprolu Jayachandra, 22, was shot dead during a robbery at a convenience store in Pasadena, Texas, where he was working.
The spate of killings between in 2008 and 2009 was attributed by some to the economic meltdown and massive job losses in the US.
The Indian Americans who have spent considerable time in the US point out that among various ethnic communities in the US, the Indians are doing well and among Indians, Telugus have excelled in various fields.
There is also a feeling that the youth are not taking enough precautions for their safety and thus becoming victims of crimes. While bodies like the Telugu Association of North America (TANA) have drafted safety guidelines, there have been demands that Indian authorities guide the citizens, especially students, on dos and don'ts.
Students are more vulnerable to attacks as they take up part-time jobs in areas with high crime rates as they are offered more money than in other areas.
While the US mission in India issued 60,000 student visas in 2015, the US consulate general in Hyderabad issued the largest number. According to US officials, the Consulate General in Hyderabad issued the fifth largest number of student visas in the world.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)