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U.S. Sikh Army Capt. sues DoD for religious discrimination, wins judgment

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An image from Singh's Facebook account

An image from Singh’s Facebook account

WASHINGTON D.C. (Diya TV) — Capt. Simratpal Singh, an officer of the United States Army, earned a small victory Thursday evening in his ongoing legal battle to wear a turban and maintain his long hair and beard while in uniform.

District Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled that the service must stop “any non-standard or discriminatory testing” involving the tailoring of Capt. Singh’s helmet and gas mask. Singh’s attorneys fought for the ruling after the Army ordered him to participate in a three-day test at Maryland’s Aberdeen Proving Ground. In their initial complaint, Singh’s legal team wrote that such tests would “expose Captain Singh to serious consequences of military discipline and the loss of his career for his religious exercise.”

Additionally, the complaint also asks the judge to force the Army to accommodate Singh’s “religious exercise in maintaining uncut hair and a beard and wearing a turban.” There is precedent surrounding the matter, at least three Sikh officers, all working in medical positions, have received the same accommodation. Singh serves with the 249th Engineer Battalion at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and has a temporary waiver which expires at the end of the month.

Singh received a Bronze Star for his efforts while serving in Afghanistan, and strictly adhered to the Army grooming and uniform standards from the time he entered the U.S. Military Academy, from which he graduated in 2010. However, late last year, shortly before he was scheduled to begin serving with the 249th, Singh informed his unit’s commanding officer that he intended to report for duty wearing his turban and long hair and beard. He was promised support for the waiver from leadership within his unit, according to the complaint.

Diya TV made contact with a Defense Department spokesman, who would not comment on the case, citing pending litigation.

“We have been advocating for the simple, straightforward, equal right to serve for years and held onto the belief that the military would correct this injustice once they realized their mistake,” said Harsimran Kaur, legal director of the Sikh Coalition, in a news release announcing the court’s ruling. “The military’s treatment of Captain Singh, a decorated soldier, makes it clear that they deliberately want to squash diversity and religious freedom in their ranks and that’s not something that any court or American should ever tolerate.”

Aside from the defense Singh is receiving from the Sikh Coalition, he has additional backing from the nonprofit Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a group that specializes in religious-freedom cases, as well as lawyers with the international firm McDermott Will & Emery.

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India agrees to supply Hydroxychloroquine to U.S.

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Hydroxychloroquine

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — India confirmed they will fulfill the order the U.S. made for hydroxychloroquine, just a couple of days after they banned all exports of the malaria treatment without exception. President Trump and Prime Minister Modi spoke about keeping the supply chain intact over the weekend. And India says the U.S. purchase was approved before President Trump said there would be ‘retaliation’ if the drug was not released, medicine that is being used to treat coronavirus patients without definitive evidence it works. India says they have enough hydroxychloroquine stock for its people today, but reserves the right to hold back the supply if their COVID-19 caseload increases.

One day after he defended firing Captain Brett Crozier from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt by calling him “stupid,” Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned. Modly was severely criticized for firing Crozier, after the captain wrote an alarming letter seeking faster assistance for his sailors exposed to COVID-19 on board, a letter that was leaked to the press.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Trump calls on Modi to supply Hydroxychloroquine

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Trump

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — President Trump spoke to Prime Minister Modi over the weekend about how the two nations would combat the coronavirus, with a focus on ensuring the supply chain for pharmaceuticals and medical goods continues. But at a press conference, when informed India had banned the export of the drug hydroxychloroquine “without any exceptions,” Trump threatened retaliation. Hydroxychloroquine is typically used to treat malaria, but some COVID-19 patients have found it helpful. And the President has been touting it during his press conferences, without a clinical trial proving if it is indeed effective. India provides nearly half of America’s supply of the medicine. It is not clear whether India’s ban would apply to orders already placed.

Prime Minister Modi called on his nation to unite in the battle against COVID-19 by lighting diyas for 9 minutes at 9 pm Sunday night. Millions of people around India took part, which is now entering its third week of being mandated to stay at home to stop the spread of the virus.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Trump tells India to supply hydroxychloroquine or face ‘retaliation’

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Trump

During a White House Press briefing, President Trump recounted having a conversation with Indian Prime Minister Modi Sunday morning about the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. When informed by reporters that Modi was unlikely to release to any nation hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria that may be helpful in treating COVID-19, Trump responded in shock, stating that he didn’t like the plan and that he would be surprised if this was the Prime Minister’s decision due to India’s strong economic ties with the United States in the trade sector. Trump stated that this course of action wouldn’t be consequence free, and that there may be retaliation in response. 

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