Incredibly sad? Yes
Immensely disturbing? Definitely.
Something "we" need to do? No.
That would be my summary reaction to the murder of this Indian graduate student at Duke and the subsequent rants and ramblings. Reactions have varied from unfair generalization (Indians are being targeted), to a more paranoid version of that (There is an organized effort to kill Indians) and to absolute paranoia (I don't feel safe anymore in my apartment). While the killing of two other Indian graduate students in Baton Rouge, Louisiana roughly a month back contributed to this paranoia, a little sanity check would convince us otherwise.
Crime happens. A Senegalese graduate student of University of Chicago was shot dead in November. Now should we conclude that someone is after international graduate students? A University of Georgia graduate student is missing for two weeks and is suspected to be dead. Now is it a conspiracy against graduate students at large? I see them as unrelated local crimes. They were just at a wrong place at a wrong time. A burglary gone wrong. A gun abuse by a drunk or a drug addict. All of us living here know that all parts of any city are not created equal - there are elements who you would not want as your neighbor, to put it mildly. However, international graduate students often end up living dangerously close to those areas, sometimes because its close to school or most of the times its just plain cheaper. Sometimes the security is reassuring, like my friend in Baltimore has automatic security alarm installed, sometimes its not, as apparently this guy from Duke was a victim before, from the stories we hear.
The reactions have been predictable. The shock and grief are inevitable, and I know some folks who knew this guy personally. While sadness is genuine, we have to understand there is not much we can do. Of course we should be alert while walking back alone late at night, but who is not? It means nothing to the deceased to fill up his Orkut scrapbook with our messages and it certainly a total wastage of time and energy to draft futile online petitions. It is a local law enforcement issue, unless proved otherwise, and not a threat to any community in general. A foreign government has no say gun control issues of this country, however insane they may seem to be from outside. All Indian government can do, and I am sure would be doing with or without a petition is to push for a fast investigation. Another pet peeve is, it has not given enough media coverage here. True enough, on Saturday, it was not in the headlines, but it happened late on Friday and Saturday was a big day in politics, with a couple of states having presidential caucuses and primaries, so no wonder it was not headline news. Since then, I have seen reasonable coverage of it and no signs of a cover up, as alleged by some.
The killing does not make sense. So does not the reactions of most Indians around me.