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Three Sikh-Americans file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense

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Specialist Kanwar Singh, Massachusetts Army National Guard, seeks to serve in the U.S. military without being forced to compromise his religion. Courtesy of The Sikh Coalition

Specialist Kanwar Singh, Massachusetts Army National Guard, seeks to serve in the U.S. military without being forced to compromise his religion. Courtesy of The Sikh Coalition

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Three Sikh-American soldiers filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense this week, according to The Sikh Coalition. Private Arjan Singh Ghotra, Specialist Harpal Singh and Specialist Kanwar Singh wish to serve their country, but also seek to continue practicing their Sikh faith and keeping their Sikh articles of faith — turban, unshorn hair, and beard — intact.

It’s the second such event in as many months for the U.S. military — Capt. Simratpal Singh, a decorated officer of the United States Army who served in Afghanistan, has been engaged in an ongoing battle regarding maintaining his beard and long hair while in uniform. He won a temporary restraining order on March 4 against additional non-standard, discriminatory testing. A final decision on Captain Singh’s case was just announced and he has been temporarily allowed to keep his beard & turban as a rare army exception.

“Three Sikhs filed suit against the Army to ensure that their requests for religious accommodation are resolved by their basic training ship dates in May,” Harsimran Kaur, The Sikh Coalition’s legal director, told NBC News. “The lead plaintiff has been waiting over seven months. The Army has been failing to make decisions on whether these patriotic Sikhs will be able serve their country while abiding by the tenets of their faith. In doing so, the Army is violating their constitutional and statutory rights.”

Private Arjan Singh Ghotra, Virginia National Guard, seeks to serve in the U.S. military with his articles of faith intact. Courtesy of The Sikh Coalition

Private Arjan Singh Ghotra, Virginia National Guard, seeks to serve in the U.S. military with his articles of faith intact. Courtesy of The Sikh Coalition

The trio of men made requests for religious accommodations months ago, however, they are seeking an answer immediately so that they may begin basic combat training alongside their units in May. Like the aforementioned Capt. Singh, the three men are being represented by The Sikh Coalition, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and McDermott Will & Emery.

“We believe that the court will find that the Army is continuing to discriminate against observant Sikhs, and will enjoin the Army to allow the Sikh plaintiffs to serve with articles of faith intact,” Kaur said.

Prior to 1974, Sikh Americans were permitted to serve in the military with their articles of faith intact. But since 1981, stricter grooming policies have reduced religious requests to a case-by-case basis, and only three have been granted since. However, about 50,000 soldiers have permanent beard exemptions for apparent medical reasons.

During a visit to the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2015, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter extended his personal support to Specialist Kanwar Singh. Additionally, 27 retired U.S. generals, 15 senators and more than 100 members of the House of Representatives have expressed their support of Sikh American’s being allowed to serve in the military with their articles of faith intact, according to The Sikh Coalition.

“These men are exactly what the Army says it wants: soldiers of integrity, patriotism, and courage,” Eric Baxter, senior counsel at the Becket Fund, said in a statement. “It’s embarrassing that the Army is still quibbling over their beards when militaries in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and India all accommodate Sikhs without a problem. Hasn’t the Army ever heard of Ulysses S. Grant?”

Specialist Harpal Singh, U.S. Army’s MAVNI program, seeks to serve in the U.S. military while also being allowed to practice his religion. Courtesy of The Sikh Coalition

Specialist Harpal Singh, U.S. Army’s MAVNI program, seeks to serve in the U.S. military while also being allowed to practice his religion. Courtesy of The Sikh Coalition

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U.S., India, Japan & Australia complete Malabar exercise

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U.S., India, Japan & Australia complete Malabar exercise | Diya TV News

MALABAR ISLANDS, India (Diya TV) — Maritime forces from the U.S., India, Japan and Australia completed Phase II of the exercises dubbed Malabar in the Arabian Sea. The U.S. State Department thanked India in a tweet for hosting the effort by “The Quad” that promotes a free and open Indo-Pacific against a growing Chinese presence in the region.

The state of Michigan officially certified its election, formally granting President-Elect Biden its 16 electoral votes. And while President Trump continues to litigate in the hopes of overturning the outcome of the election, to date, he’s lost more than 30 cases. And now the General Services Administration informed the President-Elect he will be able to get the funding and documents needed  to start the formal transition in government.

Indian American Mala Adiga was appointed by President-Elect Joe Biden to be the Policy Director for his wife Jill, who will be the First Lady. Adiga is an alum of the Obama administration, as well as the Biden Foundation.

Pakistani American Dr. Umair Shah was appointed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to be Washington State’s Secretary of Health. Shah currently serves as executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health in Texas. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Modi thanks troops for thwarting terror plot

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Modi thanks troops for thwarting terror plot | Diya TV News

JAMMU and KASHMIR, India (Diya TV) — Indian Prime Minister Modi thanked security forces for unraveling a terrorist plot by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad. Four men suspected of plotting a new attack on the anniversary of the 26/11 attacks were killed during a gunfight with Indian armed forces at a checkpoint in Jammu. Their truck was loaded with a cache of weapons and explosives. Modi is now reviewing the security apparatus along the international border and the Line of Control with Pakistan amid this infiltration.

Terrorism was a major theme of the annual BRICS summit featuring Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was hosted by Russia virtually. Prime Minister Modi said terrorism is the biggest challenge world is facing today, adding “countries that support the terrorists are held accountable.” Russian President Vladmir Putin said India and China may start producing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19.

Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s eldest son, tested positive for coronavirus. His father and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and many others in the Trump inner circle have had the virus over the last few months. A spokesman said Trump Jr. learned his diagnosis earlier this week, but has no symptoms and is quarantining in his cabin.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Senators Warner, Cornyn talk US-India relations to USIBC

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Senators Warner, Cornyn talk US-India relations to USIBC | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — China as it relates to the U.S. and India was a central topic of conversation at the USIBC Post-Election Perspectives virtual conference. Democratic Senator Mark Warner, Republican Senator John Cornyn in conversation with former U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma both conveyed how India’s importance to the U.S. is increasing in terms of security and economic opportunity moving forward. Both Senators were confident bilateral ties between the world’s two largest democracies would continue to strengthen under a Biden administration. Cornyn and Warner are co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus.

Elections officials in Georgia called the presidential race for President-elect Joe Biden after a hand recount recertified the results. The vote discrepancy totaled in the hundreds and not thousands needed for President Trump to change the outcome. Biden will be awarded the state’s 16 electoral votes. The Trump campaign continues to dispute the outcome and says they will continue to pursue all legal options.

And the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Anthony Edwards #1 overall in the NBA Draft. The Golden State Warriors picked big man James Wiseman #2, but lost NBA champion & sharpshooter Klay Thompson for the year to an Achilles injury

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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