Indian-American defense contractor Vishnu Pandit, who was shot dead during the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, “lived the American Dream,” said friends of the deceased Indian American.
Pandit (61), a Marine engineer and naval architect migrated to the US from Mumbai in the mid 70s.
A large number of friends and relatives gathered outside the North Potomac home of Vishnu ‘Kisan’ Pandit, as the news spread about his tragic death among the small Indian American community in this Maryland neighbourhood, a suburb of Washington DC.
“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 provided to The Washington Post.
“Kisan felt extremely privileged to have contributed to the superiority of the US Navy and the country that he served,” the family said, which requested the media to respect their privacy in their hour of grief.
The family which plans to hold a private Hindu service urged people to make donations to Wounded Warrior Project, any charitable organisation supporting the US Navy or the Humane Society of Montgomery County, in lieu of flowers.
Pandit was one of the 12 people who were killed by the alleged shooter in Washington Navy Yard on Monday.
Born in Mumbai in 1951, Pandit attended a marine engineering college in Kolkata, then moved to Michigan “in search of a better life for his family,” his family said.
M Nuns Jain, a friend from their days at a Calcutta university, said he was a “pioneer.”
Jain told The Huffington Post that Pandit was instrumental in bringing him to 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 said, adding that Pandit believed in the US and its principles, including the importance of government service.
“He definitely lived the American Dream and achieved it. It’s disheartening that the one flaw in the American system is the uncontrollable proliferation of guns,” Jain told Huffington Post.
He now works in Norfolk, Virginia, for the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.
Pandit is survived by two sons – Siddhesh and Kapil –, wife Anjali Pandit and a granddaughter.
According to his other Indian American friends, he was a regular visitor to the ISKON temple in Potomac and a member of the Gita Society.