INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. —Two small business owners on the northwest side say their business was the target of vandals. Now the couple, and local leaders say believe it was a hate crime.
On Monday morning, Rajesh and Vidhya Patnaik said they arrived at their sign printing shop ”Signs by Tomorrow” and found it covered in hateful graffiti. Many of the messages targeted their Hindu religion.
“First I saw the front, and then I decided to go look at the back. On the backside there was much more and it hit me like nothing before,” Rajesh said.
Because the graffiti seemed to be specifically targeted toward Patnaik’s, Rajesh said police asked him if he could trace the vandalism to a former employee or unhappy customer. However, Rajesh says he doesn’t have the slightest idea who could have vandalized his store.
“I have not let anyone go in at least a year and a half, probably more. And as far as our business goes, our dealings are not in thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, they’re a few hundred dollars here and there,” he said.
Both the Patnaik’s, and leaders within the Hindu community say it obvious that the business was the target of a hate crime.
“They didn’t just threaten a family or a business, the messages that they wrote incited hate and fear against a whole community, against a whole religion,” Arun Jain said.
Jain is a spokesperson for the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana. He says incidents like the one the Patnaik’s experienced are another example of why Indiana needs a hate crime law.
“They have to be treated in a harsher way because the attempt is to terrorize an entire community, not just to hurt an individual. So the current laws are just not adequate in terms of taking care of this type of problem,” Jain said.
Indiana is currently one of five states that do not have a hate crime law on the books. Jain believes that if the state had one this particular incident may have been prevented.
As per protocol, IMPD has forwarded the case to state investigators as well as the FBI.