The updated 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 move has been welcomed by the minority communities and top American lawmakers who had campaigned for this in the last several years.
This 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 Congressman Joe Crowley, who was one of the leading US lawmakers to push the Department of Justice in this regard.
“For too long, the government hasn’t been able to fully understand the scope of the problem as there was no way to measure it,” said Crowley, who has been a leader on the issue and 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 programmes.
Hailing the decision, Rajdeep Singh, Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition, said, “Until now, anti-Sikh hate crimes were not recognised 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.”
“We look forward to continue to working with the FBI and our coalition partners to further improve the manual and other community resources,” he 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,” said Samir Kalra of Hindu American Foundation.