Washington: The US 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.
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 organisations 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 programmes.
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 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."