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Sikh temple vandalized, holy book desecrated

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Subarna Nagra, a member of the Sikh Temple of Spokane, gathered with community leaders to condemn an act of vandalism against the house of worship. Photo/Jake Thomas

Subarna Nagra, a member of the Sikh Temple of Spokane, gathered with community leaders to condemn an act of vandalism against the house of worship. Photo/Jake Thomas

SEATTLE, (Diya TV) — A man faces charges of hate crimes after Spokane law enforcement officials said he vandalized a local Sikh temple and desecrated the temple’s holy book. The man mistakingly thought the temple was a Mosque, and affiliated with the Islamic State group terror organization, according to police — the actions were immediately met with outcry from the town’s community leaders on Thursday.

Jeffrey C. Pittman, 44, was arrested Thursday morning inside of the temple, located at 1420 N. Barker Road in Spokane, after a brief altercation with local police. He was wearing no clothing and was holding a ceremonial sword which belongs to the temple, police said. He originally told police he broke into the temple through an open door on the side of the building because he was cold and hungry.

Upon entrance, Pittman became convinced the temple was actually a mosque, connected to the terrorist group ISIS.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, joined by two mayors, three city council members and figureheads of other faiths in the community, held a joint press conference in which the man’s actions were publicly condemned.

“No hate will be tolerated in Spokane County,” Knezovich said during the press conference.

Also in attendance was Spokane mayor, David Condon. He spoke candidly on the subject, quick to defend the morals and ethics of Sikhs in his community by saying, “Sikh values are intrinsic to who we are.” Rod Higgins, mayor of Spokane Valley, added, “This is not who the people of the Valley are. … I hope justice will be swift.”

Pittman was booked into Spokane’s county jail, and charged with armed burglary, malicious mischief and malicious harassment based on religious discrimination – Washington’s version of a hate crime. While he was inside, approximately $30,000 worth of damage was done to the temple, according to its officials.

“Our hearts are broken,” said Subarna Nagra, a member of the temple.

Gurjeet Singh Aujla, the priest at the temple, said the temple’s Sikh holy book was defaced and pages were ripped from it — the altar and bedding were also vandalized. The holy book contains the accumulated teachings of the first through 10th Sikh gurus. Each morning, the book is opened and the priest selects a passage which becomes the focus of prayer and meditation for that day.

Sikhism originated in India, and has about 20 million adherents globally — Spokane’s community consists of roughly 300 Sikhs, according to Nagra. In an effort to repair the damage and replace items for the temple, which can be viewed in the below video, Nagra has created a gofundme account to raise money.

Nagra continued by thanking the steadfast efforts of the Spokane-area police, and while speaking on behalf of the Sikh Coalition, said the authorities have the complete trust and full support of the Sikh community.

“When hate crimes occur, we must investigate and prosecute them accordingly because that is one meaningful way in which Americans are forced to acknowledge the problem for what it is,” Nagra said.  “We thank the Spokane police department, the Spokane Valley police department and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich for acting quickly and taking this case so seriously. We trust that they will finish their investigation into the motivation and the District Attorney will act fairly.”

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Biden to pull US troops from Afghanistan

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Biden Plans Afghanistan Exit | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) — America’s forever war is finally coming to an end. President Joe Biden is pulling all US troops from Afghanistan by September 11th saying he can no longer justify the loss of lives. More than 2,200 US troops have been killed and 20,000 wounded, and war has cost as much as 1 trillion dollars.  The date of the pull out marks the 20th anniversary of the attack on New York City’s Twin Towers. 

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is under fire after human rights groups accuse him of being a rape apologist, after he blamed a rise in sexual assault cases on how women dress. During a live television interview, he advised women to cover up to prevent temptation. Hundreds of people have signed a statement demanding an apology.

And after being delayed for an entire year, the countdown is on to the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo Japan.  In less than 100 days, the world will showcase it’s best athletes. Meanwhile in San Francisco’s Japantown, former Olympic greats like Kristi Yamaguchi presented medallions to residents of the area who have persevered and shown courage during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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AAPI Victory Fund gets a brand new name

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Aapi Victory Fund Renamed | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) — The largest network of Asian Americans is flexing it’s political and financial capital. The group once known as the AAPI Victory Fund is rebranding itself as the AAPI Victory Alliance to fight back against the rising hate crimes and harassment against Asians and misinformation about the community. In addition to all the political and advocacy work, a new think tank will focus on education, and the group will prioritize alliances with other groups at the local, state, and national levels.

A world renowned Indian American artist is picking up the pieces after massive flooding wrecked part of his Texas home, destroying several valuable paintings and his supplies. Kartik Trivedi’s work has adorned the White House and Buckingham Palace. A GoFundMe page is now up and running to help the 83 year old recoup some of his losses.

And S. Dave Vatti was sworn in to become Magistrate Judge for the District of Connecticut. The Indian American will serve at the Bridgeport federal courthouse.  Vatti is a former United State Attorney and a lifelong Connecticut resident.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Nikki Haley wont run, if Trump runs in 2024

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If Trump Runs In 2024, Haley Says She Will Not | Diya TV News

SOUTH CAROLINA (Diya TV) — Former US Ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley says she will not make a run for the White House in 2024. But that’s only if Donald Trump decides to enter the Presidential race. Haley continues to be mentioned as a potential candidate for the Oval Office, but the Indian American’s public comments are being interpreted as an early endorsement for former President if Trump chooses to run again.

And more positive news for India’s economy. The International Monetary Fund says it’s projecting a 12 and half percent growth rate for the South Asian nation in 2021. That’s even stronger than what’s expected for China and America’s economy this year.

India is going through a historic tech boom for unicorn start ups. These are the companies valued at more than a billion dollars. In a span of four days, the country saw 6 tech unicorns emerge onto the scene. Startups like Groww, Gutshup, API Holdings, Mohalla Tech, Meesho, and Cred all reached valuations of a billion dollars or more. And that’s attracting some of the world’s largest investors like Softbank and Tiger Global.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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