Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Classical dancer from India shot dead in US; Indian mission condemns ‘reprehensible gun attack’


New York: In yet another deadly attack on Indians and Indian-Americans in the US in recent months, a 34-year-old trained classical dancer from India and a student of Washington University, was shot dead in St Louis, Missouri.

Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam dancer Amarnath Ghosh, who migrated to the US from West Bengal last year “to follow his dancing dreams,” was shot several times near the border of St Louis’ Academy and Central West End neighbourhoods. He died on the spot.

According to the St Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the shooting happened at 7:15 pm on Tuesday at Delmar Boulevard and Clarendon Avenue, news portal ‘5 On Your Side’ reported on Friday.

Ghosh was pursuing his master’s in the Performing Arts Department of Washington University.

Hailing from Suri town in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, Ghosh was an alumni of Kalakshetra, a prestigious Chennai institution that is a vital centre for the study and performance of fine arts, from 2007 to 2011.

His uncle Shyamal Ghosh said in Suri on Saturday, he is still in the dark about the details of his nephew’s death in the USA even after four days. “We had informed the district police and administration about what we had heard from various sources. But till today, we don’t have any details about his death,” he said.

Calling him “very friendly and very talented,” Ghosh’s friends Hima Kuppa and Ravi Kuppa in the US said, “He was always travelling a lot for his performances. A lot of organisations called him for performances, but he always wanted to come back to St Louis.”

Ghosh was learning ballet and dance. “I think it was a full scholarship at Wash U. His ultimate dream was to get his PhD in dance and work full-time with us at our Kuchipudi Art Academy,” Hima was quoted as saying by ‘5 On Your Side.’

He enjoyed volunteering as a dance instructor at a local studio and also taught children between the ages 5 and 18. His friends told the news outlet that Ghosh was the only child of his parents; his mother died three years ago and his father died when he was a child.

Gosh’s killing has prompted India’s consulate in Chicago to take up the issue with local police and the university.

Asserting that the mission is “extending all help to the relatives of deceased Amarnath Ghosh,” India’s Consulate in Chicago posted on X that it has “taken up the case strongly with St Louis police and the University for investigation of the reprehensible gun attack.”

Offering deep condolences to family and friends of the deceased in St Louis, Missouri, it said, “We are following up forensic, investigation with police and providing support.”

Washington University, where Gosh was a student, has condemned his killing as “senseless violence beyond comprehension.”

“There are no words to express the pain and anguish Amarnath’s family and friends are experiencing. His death is a terrible shock to us all. This type of senseless violence is beyond comprehension and we are devastated by this loss. To have this happen in our own St. Louis community is especially heartbreaking,” Anna “Dr G” Gonzalez, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs said in a statement released to all Washington University students, faculty and staff.

It was actor Devoleena Bhattacharjee, who first alerted the authorities on social media about her friend Ghosh’s death. Taking to X, she posted, “The reason, accused details everything are not revealed yet or perhaps no one left in his family to fight for it except his few friends. He was from Kolkata. Excellent dancer, was pursuing PhD, was taking an evening walk and suddenly he was shot multiple times by an unknown.”

She tagged the X handles of the Indian Embassy in the US, Prime Minister Narendra Modi among others and said, “Some friends in US are trying to claim the body but still no update about it” and requested the Embassy to look into it.

“At least we should know the reason of his murder,” she said in the post on Friday. On Saturday, Bhattacharjee said in another post on X: “Hope we get the update of this heinous crime as early as possible. If I am not wrong, this is 5th or 6th murder of Indian Students in 2 months. We all are worried here & grieving.”

Since the beginning of 2024, there have been at least half a dozen deaths of Indian and Indian-origin students in the US. The alarming rise in the number of attacks has caused concern among the community.

Sameer Kamath, a 23-year-old Indian-American student at Purdue University, was found dead in a nature preserve in Indiana on February 5.

On February 2, Vivek Taneja, a 41-year-old Indian-origin IT executive, suffered life-threatening injuries during an assault outside a restaurant in Washington, making it the seventh death of an Indian or Indian-American in recent months in the US.

A week before that, Syed Mazahir Ali, an Indian student was attacked by robbers in Chicago.

Earlier, 25-year-old Indian student Vivek Saini was fatally attacked in Georgia State’s Lithonia city by a homeless drug addict.

In January, 19-year-old Shreyas Reddy Beniger, a student at the Lindner School of Business in Ohio State was found dead. However, local authorities had ruled out foul play.

Another Indian student, identified as Neel Acharya at Purdue University, Indiana, was confirmed dead days after being reported missing on January 28.

Akul B Dhawan, an 18-year-old at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, was found dead last month with signs of hypothermia.

The series of attacks on Indians and Indian origin person/students had prompted the officials of the Indian Embassy in Washington and its consulates at various places to hold a virtual interaction with Indian students from across the US, discussing various aspects of student well-being and ways to stay connected with the larger diaspora.

About 150 Indian Student Association office bearers and students from 90 US universities participated in the interaction led by Charge d’Affaires, Ambassador Sripriya Ranganathan.

It was also attended by the Consul Generals of India in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.


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