Last Friday night a horrific incident took place in an otherwise decent neighborhood in Old Bridge New Jersey. Dr. Divyendu Sinha, a forty nine year old Computer scientist, was having a walk outside his house with his wife and two sons when five teenagers came out of their car and started beating Dr. Sinha for no apparent reason. Dr. Sinha was severely injured and was later taken to the hospital where he died on Sunday morning. The brutality of this incident shocked not only the entire Indian American community, but also the society at large. The local law enforcement have arrested all the five perpetrators and have charged them with murder although their names have been withheld due to their age (between 16 and 17). Early reports classified this as a random incident, but according to recent statements from the County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan, bias crime charges will not be ruled out. In a recent meeting with the township officials, the Asian Indian community members have expressed that they have been harassed regularly by the local teenagers, and this is not a random incident at all. The township officials have instructed the community members that they should inform the police whenever they experience such behavior. I hope that the legal process takes due action and the criminals pay the highest price for their dastardly act.
But this will not bring back the father of two young boys, who had to undergo the trauma of watching their father being brutally assaulted by five thugs. Nor it will bring back the husband of a woman who saw how her entire life was shattered by some cruel and mindless criminals. My heart goes out to them. Divyendu was one of us. He was a graduate from IIT Kharagpur (1982 Computer Science, Nehru Hall), the college where I graduated from, and I must have crossed paths with him several times in the campus. My sons are of the same age as his. It could have happened to me, or to anybody for that matter. What kind of hatred and rage was burning within these five kids who could kill a man with their bare hands? What’s happening to this society? Are we losing all civility? What are our schools teaching to our kids? It is true that all schools have few rotten apples, but how could they muster so much courage as to beat up and murder any man on the street they like?
We should all wake up now and realize that we can no longer afford to stay isolated and mind our own business. We should get involved in our communities, school boards and local administration and policy making bodies. We must make a conscious attempt to inculcate our values and ideals within our community and make a positive impact to the society. Let’s make sure that we don’t lose any other Divyendu in the future.