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India bans social media sites to quell unrest in Kashmir

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Kashmir
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Kashmiri students browse internet on their mobile phones as they sits inside a restaurant in Srinagar, Indian administered Kashmir, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. On Wednesday, authorities ordered internet service providers to block 16 social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, and popular online chat applications for one month “in the interest of maintenance of public order.”

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have banned 22 social media sites in an effort to calm tensions in the disputed region after videos depicting the alleged abuse of Kashmiris by Indian forces fueled protests. However, some sites have remained online as the local telecom company struggled to block them.

India’s government this week said that the one-month ban was necessary for public safety because social media were being “misused by anti-national and anti-social elements.”

“It’s being felt that continued misuse of social networking sites and instant messaging services is likely to be detrimental to the interests of peace and tranquility in the state,” the public order said.

Pranesh Prakash, policy director for the Indian advocacy group the Center for Internet and Society, called the ban a “blow to freedom of speech” and “legally unprecedented in India,” in an interview with ABC News.

An official with Kashmir’s state-owned telecom company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd., said engineers were still working on shutting down the 22 sites, including Facebook and Twitter, but so far had been unable to do so without freezing the internet across the Himalayan region. Meanwhile, 3G and 4G cellphone service has been suspended for more than a week, but slower 2G service is still available.

Residents of Srinagar, the region’s main city, have been frantically downloading documents, software and applications onto their smartphones which would likely be able to circumvent the social media block once it goes into effect. Many expressed relief to still have internet access early Thursday morning.

While the government has axed internet access in Kashmir in previous attempts to prevent unrest, this is the first time they have done so in response to the circulation of videos and photos showing alleged military abuse. Criticizers have taken to the internet to mock the government — a Facebook post by Kashmiri writer Arif Ayaz Parrey said the ban showed “the Indian government has decided to take on the collective subversive wisdom of cyberspace humanity.”

https://www.facebook.com/arifayaz.parrey/posts/1400382050032362

An international journalists’ rights group urged Indian authorities to immediately revoke the “sweeping censorship of social media,” saying it “will bring neither peace nor order” in the region.

Kashmiris have been uploading videos and photos of alleged abuse for some years, but several recently posted clips, captured in the days surrounding a violence-plagued local election on April 9, have proven to be especially powerful and have helped to intensify anti-India protests.

Protests and clashes are an almost daily occurrence along the Kashmir border, where the military forces from both nations try to hold the other responsible for insurgence. Disputes over control of the Kashmir region, claimed by both India and Pakistan, have sparked two wars between the nations since 1947.

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Missing Hindu woman found mutilated in Pakistan

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The mutilated body of a Hindu woman was found in a field in southeastern Pakistan. Police say 40 year old Daya Bheel was murdered in the latest suspected attack against minorities in the Muslim-majority country. Authorities say they have arrested some suspects but have not determined a motive.

The Khosla family has donated nearly 2 million dollars to the Nudge Institute to help fight poverty. The philanthropists have donated millions of dollars for many other causes.

And disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-fried pleaded not guilty to eight different counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy before a U.S. federal court in the Southern District of New York. U.S. prosecutors allege that under Bankman-Fried’s direction, FTX, once considered one of the largest and most-trusted cryptocurrency exchanges, transferred billions in customer assets to his trading firm, Alameda Research. If convicted of these charges, Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years in prison.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Christmas crash kills Indian American toddler

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Tragic news out of Nevada. Authorities say an Indian American toddler has died in a devastating Christmas day car crash and his mother is in critical condition fighting for her life. Authorities say the accident happened on a busy Las Vegas boulevard and they were returning home from a trip in California.

Anil Beephan is now the first Indian American Republican ever to be elected to the New York State Assembly in Albany. So far only Indian American Democrats have been elected to the state legislature. Beephan will also become the first minority to represent Dutchess County and at 29 years old, he’s the youngest GOP rep in the state legislature. He’s currently in the tech industry and has also worked as a volunteer firefighter.

Vice President Kamala Harris has named Indian American Rajeev Badyal to a key national advisory group, responsible for strategy and recommendations to improve and maintain space policy. Badyal already works for Amazon, helping launch satellites into orbit. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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EXCLUSIVE: Warriors host first-ever Bhangra Night

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The Golden State Warriors first-ever Bhangra Night made its debut during the Warriors-Jazz game at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The Warriors say it’s a chance for the team to connect with the Bay Area’s rapidly growing South Asian community and fan base. Only Diya TV was on hand to capture the festivities. This change from the annual Bollywood night was supposed to take place in 2020 but was postponed because of the pandemic.

A federal jury in San Francisco has convicted Sivannarayana Barama of insider trading. Authorities say he used the quarterly financial performance of Palo Alto Networks before that information was released to the public and then traded in that company’s stock while that information was still confidential. Barama worked in IT for several Silicon Valley companies.

U.S. Border Patrol caught more than 4000 Indians illegally crossing the Mexico border in October and November. That’s more than double compared to the same time frame last year. An Indian man recently died climbing a border wall in Texas. The Biden administration is struggling to contain a surge of illegal immigration at the southern border.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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