Indian-American shooting victim lived the US dream

Washington, Sep 18 (IANS): India-born Vishnu "Kisan" Pandit, one of the 12 victims of Washington's Navy Yard shooting, came to the US in the mid-1970s to live the American dream like millions of other immigrants from around the world.

Pandit was among 12 people who were killed by a gunman in the deadly mass shooting Monday at the sprawling Washington Navy Yard complex in Washington. Fourteen people were injured, while the gunman, Aaron Alexis, 34, was later killed.

Coming to the US in his early twenties after studying marine engineering at a Kolkata college, Pandit, 61, earned a Master's degree from the University of Michigan before joining the US Navy as a civilian employee.

"Kisan took great pride in being employed by the United States Navy, which he very proudly served in various capacities as a civilian for over 25 years," Pandit's family wrote in an obituary released Tuesday.

"Kisan felt extremely privileged to have contributed to the superiority of the US Navy and the country that he served."

Pandit's family remembers him as "a kind and gentle man who loved his family, friends, dog, and job", according to a Washington Post profile of the victims.

Pandit was married to Anjali Pandit and they have two sons, Siddhesh and Kapil, who are both in their 30s. They become grandparents last month when one of their sons had a daughter.

The New York Times described Pandit as "the kind of man who watched out for his neighbours: watering plants, offering to watch a baby, even checking in when he noticed a garage door left open too long".

"They were like family," one of his neighbours in North Potomac, a Washington suburb in neighbouring Maryland, was quoted as saying.

Recalling Pandit "as a man whose ready smile and affection for his golden retriever stood out even to those who didn't know him," said the neighbour.

Pandit wasn't just an engineer and suburban family man, he was a "pioneer", M. Nuns Jain, a friend from their days at a Calcutta university, told the Huffington Post.

He had led the way and soon cajoled Jain to join him in the US. "He persuaded me to come to the States," Jain said. "He was a pioneer. I followed him. I wasn't too keen on it. He talked me into it."

"He definitely lived the American Dream and achieved it," Jain said, standing outside Pandit's home. "It's disheartening that the one flaw in the American system is the uncontrollable proliferation of guns."

Pandit had grown up in Mumbai on the shore of the Arabian Sea. Jain was sure that's what sparked his friend's interest in the sea.

In his career with the US Navy, Pandit's "passion was trying to making things work better", improve technologies and make equipment run more efficiently on board the vessels, Jain was quoted as saying. "Kisan loved the navy."

Jain, who drove up from Norfolk, Virginia, for the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration to be with Pandit's family after hearing the tragic news, said: "As you can imagine, they are devastated."


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