An Indian business owner found himself the victim of a hate crime after his store was vandalized with threatening messages in Indianapolis, Indiana, according to WTHR NBC. The attack comes as a shock to Rajesh Patnaik and his wife, who emigrated from India a little over nine years ago to begin a new life in the U.S.
Vandals left racially-charged messages in spray paint all over the exterior walls, then coated the building in grease and set a fire at their back door. Hateful words like “Hindu Traitors” and “Traitor, Shiva knows” can be washed off, but the damage has been done.
“It is shocking, it hurts,” Patnaik said. “I’ve never seen anything like this before and I’ve lived in the U.S. for a little over nine years.”
“The person probably knows something, maybe something superficially, about Hinduism and they probably don’t like the fact that I am practicing Hinduism,” Patnaik said.
His neighbors, fellow business owners, are trying to make sense of what happened to Patnaik and his family.
“It makes me sad, how little people can be, that their minds are so small,” said Inna Prikhodko, who immigrated to the U.S. from Russia 30 years ago.
And although Patnaik isn’t scared, he’s definitely shaken.
“It is probably somebody who doesn’t understand that people of different faiths can coexist. That is the only thing I can think of,” he said. “I don’t know of anyone would want to do this.”
— Rich Van Wyk (@VanwykWTHR) September 18, 2017
The vandals have yet to be found.