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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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Amit Jani named White House liaison to DHS

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Indian American Amit Jani has been named acting White House liaison at the Department of Homeland Security. Jani was the former national Asian American Pacific Islander director for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and has worked with several lawmakers.

In New York, Indian American Jasminder Singh has been sentenced to four years in prison for defrauding American Express. Prosecutors say Singh stole nearly $5 million from the credit card giant and laundered the proceeds. Officials say he bought luxury items and a $1.3 million house with the money.

After weeks of uncertainty, a Chinese surveillance vessel docked at a port in Sri Lanka, raising tensions between neighboring India and China as Indian leaders grow increasingly alarmed by Beijing’s expanding influence in the region.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Apple acknowledges caste discrimination ban

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Reuters is reporting that tech giant Apple banned caste discrimination two years ago, and the company even updated it’s employee handbook to reflect this change. But it’s never been reported until now. The inclusion of this new category goes beyond what U.S. discrimination laws require. Recently a number of tech employees in Silicon Valley have highlighted caste-discrimination in companies, especially among Indians and South Asians who make up a large part of the workforce.

The political party that once backed former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has hired a US lobbying firm to restore ties with the Biden Administration. Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf also known as PTI, at one point accused the U.S. of trying to overthrow Khan when he was in office.

Legendary Indian investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala has died at the age of 62. He was often referred to as the Warren Buffet of India with an estimated net worth of 5.8 billion dollars. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the tributes to Jhunjhunwala, who was always bullish on Indian stock markets.
Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Indian Independence Day celebrated around the globe

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Indians around the world are celebrating the country’s 76th Independence day from British colonial rule by hoisting the tricolor and singing the national anthem. Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to transform India into a developed country in the next 25 years behind its democracy and the skills of his 1.3 billion people.

Pakistan on Sunday also marked its Independence Day. But at least two people were killed and some 57 people, including women and children, sustained bullet injuries after shots were fired during midnight celebrations in different parts of Lahore and Karachi.

Author Salman Rushdie is off the ventilator and expected to recover after being stabbed multiple times by an attacker in New York during a recent lecture, but his son says the injuries could be life altering. Rushdie will likely lose an eye and has damage to his liver. His ex-wife and celebrity food host Padma Lakshmi says she is worried and hopes for his speedy recovery.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report. 

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