Tahoe’s Indian motel owners raise funds for terror victims
Tahoe’s small Indian community donated $3,001 to the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department Wednesday in a show of solidarity with their adopted country, reeling under a devastating terrorist attack that killed thousands of people last week.
Twenty-six families from India’s Gujarati community – mostly motel owners – made the contributions, said Kishore Rambhai, owner of the Tahoe Hacienda motel.
“We feel the pain, like any other citizen of the country,” Rambhai said. “We want to share not just the happy occasions, but also the pain of the country.”
Indians own 40 motels and several gas stations in Tahoe. Many of them are American citizens and have lived in Tahoe for more than two decades.
Late Monday afternoon, about 10 representatives of the Indian community drove to the Fire Department office and handed over the $3,001. In making monetary gifts and donations, Indians usually add an extra buck for good luck.
Last Tuesday’s attack, in which three hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., sent shock waves through the Gujarati community, which has seen similar terror assaults on its native India where a decade-old Islamic insurgency has claimed between 30,000 to 60,000 lives.
However, the severity and the audacity of the attacks have been unprecedented and incomparable, members of the Indian community said.
The events of last week and reports of apparent backlash attacks against people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent have unsettled some Indians. A Sikh gas station owner was killed in Mesa, Ariz., and gunmen fired shots at a Lebanese-American in the same area. Shots were also fired at a home of a family of Afghan decent.
But Tahoe’s well-knit community has been tolerant and restrained, said Thakur Patel, owner of Super 8 motel near Ski Run Boulevard.
“You get dirty looks here and there but nobody has insulted us,” said Pradip, Thakur’s son.
An Indian motel owner called in the police last week when a fire broke out on his property. He feared it was misplaced retaliation for last Tuesday’s attack, but police soon ruled out the possibility.
“Many people don’t realize that America’s enemies have been our enemies for a long time,” said Rambhai.
India accuses Islamic militants – backed by Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan – of fomenting and funding a violent insurgency in its northern state of Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state in India, which has a predominantly Hindu population.
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