The U.S. has included hate crimes against Hindus, Sikhs and Arab Americans in the tracking list of the FBI, meeting the long-pending demand of the minority communities who have been repeatedly targeted post 9/11. A Press Trust of India report by Lalit K. Jha

The updated Hate Crimes Training Manual by the Department of Justice is the first new release since the FBI agreed to begin tracking hate crimes against Hindu Americans, Sikh Americans and Arab Americans in 2013.

The manual came amid increasing incidents of anti-Hindu hate crimes across the country, including several incidents of attacks and vandalism against Hindu temples.

The decision has been welcomed by top American lawmakers and minority community organizations who had been demanding this for the last several years.

“Time and time again, we have seen vicious attacks on members of Sikh, Hindu and Arab American communities. Tracking hate crimes is more than just putting a number in a column — it means giving law enforcement agencies the resources and information they need to help prevent this kind of violence in the first place,” Congressman Joe Crowley told media.

Such a move by the Department of Justice is the final step in the long-fought effort to encourage the federal government to finally begin tracking and quantifying hate crimes against these at-risk communities, said Crowley.

Crowley, who championed the cause of the minority communities, rallied his colleagues to sign letters in support of expanded hate crime tracking before and after the 2012 Oak Creek tragedy when six worshippers were killed at a Gurdwara.

The lawmaker said that the new changes announced by the FBI will go a long way in helping policymakers better understand the magnitude of hate crimes against Sikhs and other at-risk communities, and to develop more effective prevention programs.

Welcoming the move, Congressman Ami Bera said, “Religious tolerance is a fundamental value of our nation and we must do everything we can to prevent these crimes motivated by bias against a victim’s religious beliefs.”

Hailing the decision, Rajdeep Singh, Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition, said, “Until now, anti-Sikh hate crimes were not recognized by the FBI…Year after year, Sikh Americans were being targeted for harassment and violence because of their distinct identity.

“For the first time, the FBI now officially acknowledges that Sikhs are targeted for being Sikhs. While refinements are needed to the agency’s tracking system and training standards, we are making progress.”

Harsh Voruganti of the Hindu American Foundation said, “We believe the manual can be a powerful tool for law enforcement officials to fight anti-Hindu hate crimes.”

Welcoming the decision, Congressman John Garamendi, co-chair of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, said “By expanding the tracking of hate crimes, the Department of Justice, FBI, and civil rights groups can better understand and more effectively combat this hate. We must reaffirm our shared belief that every American deserves the opportunity to live out the American dream.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng, said, “I hope that the community will feel more comfortable coming forward and reporting incidents so that we can track the true extent of this problem.”

The executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Jasjit Singh, said, “The decision marks a step towards ensuring accurate reporting of hate crimes committed against Sikhs, an important step that will ultimately aid the Sikh community as we continue to address the roots of anti-Sikh bias.”

Hailing the decision, Lakshmi Sridaran, director of Policy and Advocacy, South Asian Americans Standing Together, said, “This is more important now than ever with the recent spike in hate violence targeting our communities.

“Our work ahead will be to ensure our communities are informed of these critical updates and are able to build trust with law enforcement so that hate crimes targeting South Asians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Middle Easterners, and Arabs are appropriately documented and prosecuted.”

Samir Kalra of Hindu American Foundation said, “We are hopeful that this manual, along with other HAF-led trainings for law enforcement officials and community leaders, will help law enforcement better protect all targeted communities.”