POLITICS
01/02/2018 12:20 EST

Widow Of Kansas Hate Crime Victim Makes Touching Plea For The New Year

"Take some time to understand and embrace diversity in race, culture and religion," Sunayana Dumala wrote in a Facebook post.

NOAH SEELAM via Getty Images
Sunayana Dumala (R), wife of the slain Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla is consoled by family members prior to performing the last rites at his funeral in Hyderabad on February 28, 2017. 

As the New Year begins, the widow of an Indian hate crime victim is making a plea to Americans  ― urging people to embrace each others’ differences.

Sunayana Dumala, who lost husband Srinivas Kuchibhotla after a fatal shooting in Kansas last February, asked friends and well-wishers to add another resolution to their 2018 list.

“Take some time to understand and embrace diversity in race, culture and religion. It is in our hands to make our society safe and secure for our future generations and create a fearless world,” Dumala wrote in a Facebook post late Monday night. “Please, make this as one of your priorities and work towards it as even though we know life is uncertain we are never prepared for that uncertainty. ”

Dumala was thrust into the national spotlight after her husband was attacked at a bar in Olathe, Kansas, on Feb. 22. The suspect, Adam Purinton, reportedly shouted “Get out of my country” before shooting at Kuchibhotla and another Indian immigrant, Alok Madasani. Kuchibhotla died in the attack and Madasani was injured.

Purinton has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in Kansas’ Johnson County. He was indicted on federal hate crime charges in June. 

In her Facebook post, Dumala called 2017 one of the worst years of her life. 

“Like every other year both me and Srinu welcomed year 2017 with lot of hopes. A year of promises to be with each other and hopefully grow our family by adding new addition,” Dumala wrote. “Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way because of one man’s ignorance, hate and anger, giving our family an irreparable loss and shattering our dreams.”

JASON REDMOND via Getty Images
A photo of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the 32-year-old Indian engineer killed at a bar in Olathe, Kansas, is pictured during a peace vigil in Bellevue, Washington, on March 5, 2017.

Dumala also addressed her husband directly in the post, telling him about how he continues to inspire her.

“Srinu you are very dearly missed by everyone and nothing can replace your natural aura and charisma that made you special,” she wrote. “But it is your positive attitude that is driving us forward and it is with same positivity I welcome year 2018 with the hope that we spread the message of love and empathy.”

Since her husband’s death, Dumala became an activist and a public figure in the Indian American community. She’s spoken out for immigration reform and has tried to spread a message of love and empathy. 

In early December, Dumala joined others touched by tragic hate crimes at a forum organized by The New York Times at Rockhurst University, in Kansas City, Missouri. She appeared alongside Ian Grillot, a bystander who attempted to intervene during the attack on Kuchibhotla, and Mindy Corporon, who lost her father and son during a shooting at a Jewish community center in Overland Park in 2014. 

Dumala spoke about the incredible amount of support she’s received since the tragedy from her neighbors, her employer and others. 

“This is what America stands for,” she said during the panel, according to KCUR. “We are one people. We might be different cultures or races or ethnicities, but we should put energy into embracing our differences.”

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