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HAF accuses Al Jazeera, Audrey Truschke & others of libel

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WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) responded to allegations of being a front organization for Hindu extremist groups by sending cease and desist notices to five organizations and individuals ranging from Qatari state-owned media network Al Jazeera to Rutgers-Newark University Associate Professor Audrey Truschke. 

The Washington DC-based Hindu advocacy organization in a statement alleged the plaintiffs exhibited “reckless disregard of the truth…fully meeting the definition of libel under US law.”

Al Jazeera reported in April 2021 that five ‘Hindu supremacist’ groups received a total of $833,000 in federal aid through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance (EIDLA), Disaster Assistance Loan (DAL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — with the majority going to HAF. 

Al Jazeera went on to link HAF to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist organization affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India, through HAF corporate officers, donors, and board members associated with RSS chapters in the United States.

Described by Al Jazeera as a group that “lobbies to deflect any criticism of Modi government’s policies on Capitol Hill,” HAF has long faced allegations from within the South Asian community of being a proxy for right wing Hindu groups.

Hindus for Human Rights co-founder Sunita Vishvanath was quoted saying the five Hindu groups were “sympathetic to the Hindu supremacist ideology and parent (sic) organisations continue to spread hatred in Hindu communities towards Muslims and Christians.” Vishvanath also received a cease and desist notice.

Professor Audrey Truschke, who is a frequent target of online criticism due to her views on South Asian history and politics, has also been a vocal critic of HAF, accusing the group of using intimidation and “acting on behalf of a foreign government that is silencing American voices at home.”

”HAF is highly visible and often subject to harassment and abuse,” said HAF’s Executive Director Suhag Shukla. In a statement, HAF said its “leadership strongly rejected insinuations of dual loyalty to India, associations with foreign organizations or Islamophobia, and expressed a determination to fight these accusations in US courts.” 

In addition to Al Jazeera, Truschke and Vishwanath, HAF also sent notices to Hindus for Human Rights co-founder Raju Rajgopal, Rasheed Ahmed of the Indian American Muslim Council, John Prabhudoss of the Federation of Indian American Christians, and Al Jazeera reporter Raqib Hameed Naik, demanding they retract their statements and issue apologies within 24 hours.

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Indian Americans jump into congressional races

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Indian Americans jump into congressional races | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — The latest numbers show more Indian Americans than ever are running for Congress. In the last six years, nearly 80 candidates made it on the ballot, soaring far beyond numbers seen in past elections. Leading the wave are successful candidates from California, like Kamala Harris, who rose from a Senate seat to become vice president. Helping those numbers, Indians Americans are also one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the country.  

Nisha Ramachandran is the new Executive Director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the first Indian American to serve in this role.  Ramachandran most recently managed her own consulting business focused on AAPI advocacy. She’ll be working closely with Congresswoman Judy Chu who chairs the group to further Asian American causes and initiatives. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the people of Telangana after the Kakatiya Rudreshwara Ramappa Temple was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The PM also urged citizens to visit the temple which was built during the rule of the Kakatiya dynasty.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Blinken begins India visit, Afghanistan top issue

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Blinken begins India visit, Afghanistan top issue | Diya TV News

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — US secretary of state Antony Blinken begins his two-day India visit on Tuesday hoping to engage the nation on issues such as the Covid-19 response, human rights, and democracy. The American troop pullout in Afghanistan will also be a key issue. India is concerned about the implications of the withdrawal and the need for sustained pressure on Pakistan over issues like terror financing.

And India’s first medal at the Tokyo Olympics goes to Mirabai Chanu. She won silver in Women’s weight lifting. Chanu’s Olympic preparations were hindered by injuries and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic but she still beat the odds and is being praised back home.

Tesla may open a factory in India. But CEO Elon Musk says only if the cars receive a good response in that marketplace. The company has already been hiring talent in the country. But Musk also hinted at some downsides to opening overseas, citing India’s import duty tax is the highest in the world for a large country.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Shrina Kurani announces CA congressional campaign

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Shrina Kurani announces CA congressional campaign | Diya TV News

SACRAMENTO (Diya TV) — Indian American Democrat Shrina Kurani is running for Congress in California’s 42nd district and is preparing to take on 15-year Republican incumbent Ken Calvert. Kurani is a mechanical engineer and entrepreneur and says she’s running to create more sustainable jobs in her community and to take on the status quo in Washington DC.

More than 30 interfaith organizations in the U.S. are urging the State Department to sanction India and designate it as a country of “particular concern”. Their resolution claims that the Indian government is promoting policies that lead to the persecution of religious minorities, especially Muslims.
Despite growing concern over rising Covid-19 cases in Japan, the 2021 Tokyo Olympic opening ceremony got underway. India is sending its largest ever contingent to the Olympics with120 athletes competing across 85 events.  The country hopes to win medals for shooting, wrestling, boxing, archery and badminton.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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