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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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Indian Americans now 2nd largest immigrant group in the US

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Indian American

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — New data released indicates Indian Americans are now the second largest immigrant group conferred with American citizenship, behind only the Mexican community. Individuals born in India made up 6.9% of the total number of new American citizens, reflecting a rise of 2.7% over the previous year.

Democrats made their final opening argument on the fourth day of President Trump’s impeachment trial. A new recording played before the Senate demonstrated the President wanted former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired, saying on tape: “Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”

The Pentagon says 34 American troops have brain injuries from the missile strike launched by Iran in retaliation for the killing of Qasem Soleimani.

More than 800 people have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, the ailment that began in China and is spreading around the globe. At least 26 people are dead. Hospitals in China are overwhelmed with patients. The disease has reached Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the U.S.

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Pharma exec John Kapoor gets 66 month prison sentence

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Pharma exec John Kapoor gets 66 month prison sentence | Diya TV News

BOSTON (Diya TV)  — Former billionaire CEO John Kapoor was sentenced to 66 months in prison, the culmination of a criminal trial in Boston resulting in the first successful prosecution of a pharmaceutical executive tied to the opioid epidemic. The 76-year-old founder of Insys Therapeutics made the potent opioid painkiller Subsys.

Senators reconvened in the Capitol for the third day of President Trump’s impeachment trial. House Democrats argued the president abused his power by pressuring Ukraine for his own personal gain, often playing video of Trump speaking publicly to make their point.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the World Economic Forum in Davos said Osama bin Laden was able to find refuge in Pakistan because groups like Al Qaeda were viewed as “heroes” rather than terrorists. In May 2011, bin Laden was killed by US Special Forces in Pakistan, near one of their military bases.

India is considering incentives to woo Apple and Samsung’s suppliers to open factories in the country.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Tulsi Gabbard sues Hillary Clinton for defamation

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Tulsi Gabbard sues Hillary Clinton for defamation | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announced she is suing former First Lady Hillary Clinton for defamation. Gabbard was once Vice Chair of the Democratic Party, but stepped down when she decided to publicly endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for President in 2016. Gabbard says she’s been smeared since making that decision by Clinton and her network of supporters.

The Republican-led Senate rejected all 11 Democratic-proposed amendments en route to approving the rules for the impeachment trial of President Trump. The war of words between the two sides got so nasty at one point, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts asked them all to bite their tongues.

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone was honored with a Crystal Award at the opening session of the World Economic Forum’s 2020 annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. 

The founder of The Live Love Laugh Foundation, Padukone was celebrated for leadership that inspires inclusive and sustainable change.

And for the first time, the Sikh community in the U.S. will be counted as a separate ethnic group in the 2020 US census.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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