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Sikh American Gurbir Singh Grewal could become NJ’s first South Asian Attorney General

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Gurbir Singh Grewal being sworn in as Bergen County Prosecutor in January 2017

HACKENSACK, NJ (Diya TV) — Governor-elect Phil Murphy on Tuesday announced Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal as his nominee to serve as state attorney general, the Democrat’s first high-level nomination as he works to fill out an administration set to take office on Jan. 16.

The pick of Grewal, an Indian-American Sikh, could prove historic. If Grewal is confirmed by the state Senate, which seems all but certain, Murphy said he would become the first South Asian attorney general in New Jersey and the first Sikh to hold the position in any state.

“The American dream is alive and well in New Jersey,” Grewal said at a news conference in Trenton where Murphy made the announcement.

Grewal, a Glen Rock resident and former federal prosecutor, has led the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office since Republican Gov. Chris Christie tapped him for the role in January 2016. He served in an acting capacity until the Senate confirmed him to a five-year term in November 2016.

Grewal, a Democrat, has earned plaudits for his office’s work in combating the opioid crisis in Bergen County and promoting better relations between police and the people they serve.

The South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA) congratulated Gurbir S. Grewal.
“The decision to appoint a visible minority as the chief law enforcement officer for New Jersey reflects the diversity of the state and of the US, and is especially important in a time where minorities and immigrants have often felt targeted by law enforcement,” said SABA President Rishi Bagga. “We applaud Governor-elect Murphy in picking a distinguished and qualified member of the South Asian and Sikh American legal community for this pivotal role. We strongly support Mr. Grewal’s nomination as Attorney General and look forward to working with him on issues of national importance.”

Mr. Grewal has spent most of his legal career in public service, where he is currently the Bergen County prosecutor. Working for most populous county in New Jersey, Grewal serves a community of almost one million with his staff of 265.

Among other initiatives, Grewal has put in place a strategy of persuading recently arrested or hospitalized addicts to immediately talk to addiction recovery specialists. That has led to nearly three-quarters of those addicts agreeing to enter treatment at some point.

Attorney general is one of the most powerful positions in New Jersey government, serving as the state’s top cop and top lawyer. The person in that role leads the 7,200-employee Department of Law and Public Safety, which includes the State Police, civil rights enforcement, consumer affairs and civil litigation.

Grewal’s confirmation would be the second notable accomplishment for New Jersey Sikhs in recent months. Earlier this year, Ravi Bhalla was elected mayor of Hoboken and will become the first Sikh to hold that office in New Jersey.

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EXCLUSIVE: Fremont PD and FOG confirm Independence Day Parade cancelled over security, permitting

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FREMONT, Calif. (Diya TV) — Fremont Police Department and FOG organizers confirm the annual Indian Independence Day parade, scheduled for this Sunday, is cancelled due to permitting and security concerns. FOG will still take place this weekend, minus the parade. Here’s our initial report on FOG security from earlier this week.

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Rep. Suozzi apologizes over Kashmir letter to Pompeo

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Kashmir apology

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi represents New York’s 3rd Congressional District, a diverse region with a large contingent of Pakistani and Indian Americans. After meeting with a group of Pakistani constituents upset about India’s change in approach towards Kashmir, he wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to prioritize Kashmir. 

Now he’s backtracked from those remarks, issuing a new statement to apologize after meeting with Indian American constituents, saying he should have “framed [his] concerns differently.”

A Pakistani-American audience member at BeautyCon got the attention she was seeking for Kashmir when she publicly accused Indian actress Priyanka Chopra during a question and answer session of “encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan.” Ayesha Malik says she did not intend to challenge Chopra at the event, but wanted know why Priyanka tweeted ‘Jai Hind’ after tensions flared up in Kashmir when terrorists from Pakistan killed 40 Indian soldiers. Chopra, who is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, dismissed Malik’s accusation, but is being criticized for being hypocritical and the tone and manner of the denial.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Gandhi celebrations take place in Atlanta, Bay Area

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Gandhi celebrations

ATLANTA (Diya TV) — The Indian Consulate in Atlanta, along with the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi, one of the many celebrations that will mark his 150th birth anniversary this year. 

In the Bay Area, a full day symposium on Gandhi was put together, highlighted by civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers along with Cesar Chavez.

Sonia Gandhi is back to lead the Congress Party as interim president, almost two years after she resigned. Her son Rahul resigned as party president recently after Prime Minister Modi was re-elected decisively. 

The federal budget deficit grew to $868 billion in the first 10 months of the new fiscal year. Not only is that a 27% increase from the same period one year ago, it’s the largest deficit since 2012. The annual deficit is expected to hit $1 trillion annually in 2022.

And while the debate over Kashmir rages on, Discovery in India premiered an Indian wilderness special featuring Prime Minister Modi. While the goal was to create awareness about animal conservation & environmental change, critics remark Modi’s environmental record is leaves much to be desired.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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