CHICAGO: Indian-Americans from across Chicagoland paid glowing tributes to more than 40 fallen innocent and another 44 injured in the deadliest terror attack, carried out by the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e Mohammed in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir.
The fire that was burning in the hearts of the Indian-Americans was so strong and vibrant that a bitter cold evening (20F / -7C) failed to stop them from attending the event in large numbers. Over forty Chicago-based Indian associations were joined by Mayor of Naperville, Steve Chirico, US Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthy, Members of Naperville City Council, Aurora Alderman Rick Mervine and other elected officials and community leaders.
The event was organized by Indian Community Outreach Organization (ICO) and was held on Monday February 18 at Naperville Municipal Centre.
Krishna Bansal, Chairman of ICO, called upon all the countries from across the globe to support India in its fight against Pakistan-based terrorist groups by condemning, in strongest terms, the barbaric attack. “All nations need to stand together with US and India to take a very strong action against those conducting hideous crimes and anyone supporting them”, he said adding Pakistan needs to immediately end its support and safe haven to all terrorist groups operating on its soil, whose only goal is to sow chaos, violence, and terror in the regions they operate.
“Indian community here is grieving for those who have been killed or wounded in this inhuman attack. We express our deep condolences to the victims’ families for the loss of life in this brutality”, Bansal continued.
Mayor Steve Chirico said that terrorism has emerged as a global phenomenon in contemporary world. “Action by a single country, though important in its own right, is not enough. Concerted action by all the countries, across the globe is, therefore, the need of the hour”, he observed. Alderman from Aurora Rick Mervine also vehemently condemned the Pulwama terror attack while grieving for victims of Aurora shooting last week.
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthy said that the will of the people of the world in general and that of India in particular to put an end to the acts of terror is much stronger that the phenomenon of terrorism. “Terrorism deserves to be dealt with an iron hand in the best interests of humanity”, said Raja. “If the terrorists give up violence, India, being a peace-loving country, will reciprocate to find a permanent solution to the problem”, he added.
Vandana Jhingan, ICO Advisor, asked the Indian leadership to strongly put an end to terrorist activities against India. She also called upon Indian-Americans to meet the family members of the martyrs as and when they visit India.
Viral Shah, ICO Board member, said that terrorism does not dampen the patriotic spirit of the Indians. Instead, he added, the acts of terror go a long way in further strengthening their resolve, irrespective of the country where they reside, to fight with much greater strength. “Today, we have joined hands with over 40 associations in Chicago to fight against terror. This initiative will be further strengthened across the length and breadth of the US in order to make it a people’s movement”, he added.
A two-minute silence was observed with 40 bells for the martyred to demonstrate grief and anger over the Pulwama terror attack and to showcase solidarity with the Indian armed forces.
An iconic song, “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo, Zara Aankh Me Bhar Lo Paani; Jo Shaheed Huwe Hain Unki Zara Yaad Karo Qurbani”, which was sung by Nipa Shah, brought tears in the eyes of one and all.
The event commenced with the singing of National Anthems of the US by Rewa Narsana and that of India by Nipa Shah.