Indian Man Prabhu Ramamoorthy Convicted Of Groping Woman On US Flight, Faces Life In Prison


Prabhu Ramamoorthy initially told investigators that he was in a deep sleep. (File)

Washington: 

A 35-year-old Indian IT manager has been convicted of sexually assaulting a sleeping woman aboard a Detroit-bound flight in the US, media reports said today.

Prabhu Ramamoorthy, who worked for an IT company for over two years, will be sentenced on December 12 by US District Judge Terrence Berg, The Detroit News reported.

Prabhu Ramamoorthy faces up to life in prison. If released, he will be deported to India.

The verdict came seven months after he assaulted the 22-year-old woman during a Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas while his wife sat in the next seat, the report said.

A federal jury in Michigan’s largest city Detroit convicted Ramamoorthy, who lived in Rochester Hills city, of sexually assaulting the woman.

Following a five-day trial, the jury deliberated for less than four hours before convicting Prabhu Ramamoorthy, it said.

“We will not tolerate the behaviour of anyone who takes advantage of victims who are in a vulnerable position, and we are glad the jury agreed,” US Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement.

“We appreciate the victim in this case for her courage to speak out,” Mr Schneider said.

The woman said she was sitting in a window seat next to Prabhu Ramamoorthy, whose wife was in the aisle seat. The woman said that she fell asleep and woke up to discover a hand in her pants and noticed that her pants were unbuttoned and her shirt untied. When she woke up, the man stopped, and the woman alerted a flight attendant, the report said.

Prabhu Ramamoorthy initially told investigators that he was in a deep sleep and did not do anything, it said.

Later, he told an FBI agent he “might have” undone the woman’s bra and cupped her breast, according to court records, the report added.





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Another Sikh Man Stabbed To Death In His Store In US, Third Attack In 3 Weeks


Terlok Singh, owner of a store in New Jersey, was stabbed to death in a fresh hate crime in US

New York: 

A Sikh man has been stabbed to death at his store in the US state of New Jersey, the third incident targeting the minority Sikh community in the country in three weeks.

Terlok Singh was discovered dead by his cousin on Thursday in his store with an apparent stab wound in the chest.

The Essex County Prosecutor’s office is calling the incident a homicide, according to a report in ABC7NY.

The motive behind the killing was not immediately known.

Mr Singh, described as a very kind person, is survived by his wife and children who live in India. He owned the store to support his family.

His family closed the store as a deeply-saddened community watched in horror.

The news report said Terlok Singh ran his store for at least six years and a neighbour said he should not have had to worry about being attacked in his work place.

Civil rights organisation the Sikh Coalition, in a Facebook post, expressed condolences to Mr Singh’s family, friends and local community.

Simran Jeet Singh, a visiting scholar at New York University’s Center for Religion and Media and a Senior Religion Fellow for the Sikh Coalition, tweeted about Singh’s tragic death, saying “this is the third attack on a Sikh in the last three weeks. So tired of all this sadness.”

On August 6 in Manteca, California, 71-year-old Sahib Singh was brutally attacked by Tyrone McAllister and a juvenile when the elderly man went on a morning walk.

Tyrone McAllister, who is this son of a local police chief, and the juvenile were charged with attempted robbery, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.

On July 31, 50-year-old Surjit Malhi was attacked while putting up campaign signs in support of incumbent Republican Congressman Jeff Denham and other local Republican candidates.

While beating Mr Malhi, the attackers yelled “Go back to your country!” and spray painted the same message, along with hate symbols, on his truck.

Following the two incidents, the Sikh Coalition had urged members of the community to know their rights, remain vigilant and report cases of bias, bigotry and backlash in the wake of the attacks.

“We are deeply troubled by these two recent attacks and strongly encourage increased vigilance nationwide as we work to support the Central Valley, California community during this difficult time,” Sikh Coalition Legal Director Amrith Kaur had said.
 





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Sanjeev Gupta, Indian-Origin Billionaire Plans Billion-Dollar Renewable Energy Project In Australia


Gupta Family Group Alliance has plans for starting hydro projects and expanding solar farms in Australia

Canberra: 

India born British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has launched a $1 billion, one-gigawatt renewable energy plan based in South Australia’s mid-north that he says will lead the country’s industry transition to more competitive power.

In the first of a number of projects slated for the upper Spencer Gulf region, will include a 120MW lithium-ion battery bigger than the 100MW battery built by Elon Musk’s Tesla in South Australia in 2017, according to details released by Mr Gupta’s energy company Simec Zen of its Cultana Solar Farm.

The project will produce 280 megawatts of power and feature 780,000 solar panels, generating enough electricity for 96,000 homes. The Cultana Solar Farm will begin construction in early 2019, employing 350 workers during construction, reported ABC News.

“Today’s event is symbolic of our desire to develop and invest in new-generation energy assets that will bring down Australia’s electricity prices to competitive levels again,” Mr Gupta said on Wednesday.

“Solar will be the main base of our ambitions in Australia but we will have some wind and we have lots of storage solutions.”

When completed, Mr Gupta’s battery will surpass the battery built by Tesla as the largest in the world, reports said.

However, the Gupta Family Group (GFG) Alliance has no intention to stop there with plans for pumped hydro projects and expanded solar farms being developed for South Australia.

“All of these projects will not only improve reliability and greatly reduce the cost of electricity in our own operations, they will also provide competitive sources of power for other industrial and commercial users, while at the same time playing a key role in the market’s transition towards renewables,” he said.

“We have a strong conviction that traditional carbon-intensive generation sources do not have a long-term future as the predominant source of power in Australia and globally.”

“We believe the world is undergoing a momentous transition to renewable power as the cost of renewables drops dramatically and quickly,” he added.





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Fraser Anning, Australian Senator Wants Cuts In Student Visas


Senator Fraser Anning sought a drastic cut in the number of student visas in Australia (Representational)

Canberra: 

Senator Fraser Anning has sought a drastic cut in the number of student visas in Australia, where India is the second largest source of international students after China.

In his maiden speech at the Senate on Tuesday, Anning targeted international students by asking for an “end to Australian-job-stealing 457 visas” and “force international students to return to their country of origin once they finish their education”.

“Student visas should be drastically reduced in number. This will create more university places for Australians, whose parents have actually paid for the universities with their taxes in the first place,” Anning said.

“Those studying here who decide to apply to immigrate should be required to return to their country of origin after their qualification and to apply as part of the general migration programme.”

More Indian students are opting for admissions in Australian institutions. Universities such as New South Wales, Deakin, Canberra and Queensland had a “very good 2017”, as far as the increase in Indian students is concerned, said an earlier report in SBS News.

The number of Indian students studying in Australia ascended to a seven-year high, the Australian High Commission in New Delhi reported in February.





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Increase In Indian Asylum Seekers Crossing Into US From Mexico: Report


An Indian immigrant said that he wasn’t allowed to wear his turban inside the centre (Representational)

Washington: 

The number of Indians crossing into the US from Mexico and seeking asylum has been increasing in the recent years, a media report has claimed.

Indian citizens are among thousands of migrants from Haiti, Africa and Asia who are trekking across Latin America through travel routes forged by Latino immigrants, The Los Angeles Times reported.

According to the immigration officials and attorneys, there has been an increase in recent years in Indian nationals crossing into the US through Mexico, although they represent a small percentage of those detained overall, it said.

About 380 of the 680 migrants in early August at the Victorville federal prison in California were Indian nationals, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The report said that they were sent there as civil rather than criminal detainees pending the outcome of their immigration cases.

In addition, about 40 percent of the detainees at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Imperial Valley facility are from India, a spokeswoman said in the report.

Nearly 20 percent of the detainees at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Adelanto processing center are Indians.

The report also cited data from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse which said that so far during the 2018 fiscal year, 4,197 of those arrested by Border Patrol agents have been Indian nationals. And many have seen their asylum claims denied.

The report said that detainees from India have cited an increase in political and religious persecution as their reasons for seeking asylum, according to the US Customs and Border Protection.

Some of those seeking asylum are from the Sikh community and have alleged that they are not able to follow their religious practices and beliefs.

Quoting Sukhwinder, 20, an immigrant from Punjab who did not want his full name used for fear of retribution, the report said he spent two months inside the Imperial Valley center, where he said that he was not allowed to wear the turban and bracelet many Sikhs wear as part of their faith.

Hindus housed in the same facility were forced to eat meat for more than two weeks, despite their religious beliefs, he said in the report.

“I didn’t feel at ease. I wished I was in my home country,” Sukhwinder said through an interpreter.

Management and Training Corp, the company that operates the Imperial Regional Detention Facility, said in an email to the paper, “we provide turbans to detainees free of charge” when they are requested.

The company said that the center’s menu is approved by a dietician according to the national standards and if detainees request, they are provided with a vegetarian diet.

Vinay Lal, a history professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that although he has not seen evidence of Indian refugees coming to the US to escape political persecution but it is possible.

He said that he views the increase in the number of Indian immigrants crossing through Mexico as part of a global “migration crisis” rather than a political one.

“I think that the word has gone out that there are various ways that you can try to move and coming through the Mexican border remains one of the more accessible ways,” Mr Lal said.





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Indians Abroad Celebrate Independence Day With Traditional Fervour


A large number of Indians attended the flag hoisting ceremonies held at the High Commission in Canberra

Melbourne: 

Thousands of Indians across the world today proudly celebrated India’s 72nd Independence Day with the Indian flag fluttering high and the national anthem reverberating at Indian missions abroad.

Indians in China, Australia, Singapore and many other countries marked the day with hoisting of the national flag and singing of patriotic songs.

In Beijing, a large number of the Indians took part in the Independence Day celebrations held at the Indian Embassy.

India’s Ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale hoisted the Indian flag and read President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the nation.

Several Indian dignitaries, including BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, senior Congress leader Karan Singh, who are currently in China, took part in the flag hoisting ceremony.

A large number of Indians were present at the occasion.

In Melbourne, a large number of Indian expatriates attended the flag hoisting ceremonies held at the Indian High Commission in Canberra and consulate buildings in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to mark the 72nd Independence Day.

Congratulating the Indian government, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that India and Australia were great friends with a lot in common as modern, vibrant and diverse democracies.

“Australia’s large and growing Indian community makes a much valued contribution to so many areas of our national life – and has for many year,” Mr Turnbull said here in an official statement.

“Whether through culture, community, education, science or enterprise, Indian-Australians are helping make our nation stronger and more dynamic.

“We have a connection and friendship that stretch from Adelaide to Amritsar, Hobart to Hyderabad and everywhere in between,” he said.

Mr Turnbull said that he was fortunate to have seen the flourishing relationship first hand during his visit to India last year.

“I am confident that our deepening ties will ensure that these friendly relations will continue to prosper in the coming year,” he said.

In his congratulatory message, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs minister Alan Tudge said, “India today is the world’s largest democracy sharing our liberal democratic values and commitment to freedom.

“As Australia’s fifth largest export market, and our 10th largest trading partner overall, Australia and India have a relationship based on strong political, economic and community ties,” he said.

Mr Tudge highlighted that investment between the two sides have grown significantly in the last decade and the number of Indians born in Australia also jumped.

Meanwhile, Indian diaspora across the country held several cultural events and special dinners to mark the occasion.

Last week, Bollywood actress Rani Mukherjee, who was attending the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) 2018, hoisted the Indian flag at the iconic building Federation Square here.

In Singapore, more than 500 Indians in Singapore joined High Commissioner Jawed Ashraf in celebrating India’s Independent Day.

The Indian flag was unfurled in the presence of more than 800 Indian nationals.

A concert of patriotic songs and cultural performance was also organised to mark the occasion.

A mid-morning reception was hosted at the High Commission for the business community linked to India.





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Jeff Sessions, US Attorney General Calls Murdered Hyderabad Techie Sikh By Mistake


Jeff Sessions erroneously referred to Srinivas Kuchibhotla as “Sikh” (File Photo)

New York: 

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has erroneously referred to Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was shot dead in a hate crime at a suburban Kansas City bar last year, as Sikh.

A US Navy veteran was last week awarded three consecutive life sentences on federal hate crime charges for killing Mr Kuchibhotla and wounding two others at a suburban Kansas City bar last year.

Adam Purinton of Olathe shot and killed 32-year-old Mr Kuchibhotla, and injured two others, Indian national Alok Madasani and Kansas resident Ian Grillot, at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas, in February 2017.

Jeff Sessions, America’s top law enforcement official said this while addressing the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Summit on Religious Liberty on August 8, a day after Purinton was awarded three consecutive life sentences.

“Yesterday, we obtained a life sentence for a man who murdered an Indian-American man, a Sikh as it turned out, because he thought he was a Muslim,” Mr Sessions said in his remarks at the summit.

“This is the kind of horrible things we do not need to allow in this country,” Mr Sessions added in his speech, the video of which is available online.

While Mr Sessions did not name Mr Kuchibhotla, the reference was to the August 7 sentencing of Purinton when he was handed down three consecutive life terms for killing the Hyderabad native.

The mistake of wrongly identifying Mr Kuchibhotla as a Sikh was pointed out by PTI in New York to the Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs.

 Later, an official from the public affairs office, responding to PTI’s email seeking comment on the error, said that an updated speech has been uploaded on the Department of Justice’s website. In the updated version of Mr Sessions’ remarks, the error has been rectified.

The updated version of Sessions’ remarks removed the Sikh reference and now states that “yesterday, we obtained a life sentence for a man who murdered an Indian-American man because he thought he was Muslim.”

It mentions at the end of the remarks that “The original version of this speech mistakenly identified the victim of a hate crime as Sikh.”

Mr Kuchibhotla hailed from Hyderabad and had worked at Garmin as a senior aviation systems engineer in Kansas. He and Mr Madasani were sitting in the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe when Purinton approached them and demanded to know where they were from and how they entered the country. Purinton poked Mr Kuchibhotla in the chest, called him a “terrorist” and an epithet disparaging persons of Middle Eastern descent, and shouted, “Get out of my country!”

Aiming at Mr Kuchibhotla and Mr Madasani, Purinton fired eight rounds from his semi-automatic pistol, at least four of which struck Mr Kuchibhotla, who died from his injuries, and one of which struck Mr Madasani, who was injured. Hours after the shooting, Purinton stated over the phone to a friend, and later in person to a bartender, that he had just killed some “Iranians.”

In his remarks, Mr Sessions also said the Department is aggressively enforcing the country’s civil rights laws, hate crimes laws, and laws protecting churches and faith groups.

Since January 2017, the Department obtained 11 indictments and eight convictions in cases involving arson or other attacks or threats against houses of worship. The Civil Rights Division has also obtained 13 indictments in other attacks or threats against people because of their religion.

“And we are not slowing down. Three weeks ago, we obtained a jury verdict against a man who set fire to a mosque in Texas and a man from Missouri for threatening to kill members of a mosque,” he said.





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US Teen Who Allegedly Beat Up Sikh Man Sahib Singh Natt In California Makes Obscene Gestures In Court: Report


New York: 

The teenager son of a police chief in California, who allegedly brutally assaulted a 71-year-old Sikh man, grinned and made obscene gestures during his first court appearance, according to a media report.

Sahib Singh Natt was attacked last week and spit at by 18-year-old Tyrone McAllister and his 16-year-old juvenile friend in Manteca, California. 

McAllister, the son of Union City Police Chief Darryl McAllister, and the juvenile have been charged with attempted robbery, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.

On Friday, younger McAllister entered the courtroom and flipped his middle fingers to a cameraman. He then dropped his hands before throwing up his middle finger a second time, Sacramento’s FOX 40 reported.

He appeared to be grinning, and made suspected gang signs while his hands were cuffed, the report added.

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The disturbing video of the brutal attack on Sahib Singh Natt was shared widely online.

Younger McAllister appeared in the court for his arraignment. No bail was set for the teen.

The attack on Sahib Singh Natt during his morning walk was captured by surveillance cameras and showed the two teenagers beating the old man while dressed in hoodies. One, who was wearing a black hoodie, was brandishing a gun.

 Investigators were still looking into whether the attack meets the legal criteria for charging a hate crime, the report said.

“As to whether it was just a crime or a hate crime, I’m of the opinion that at this point, looking at the videos, that it’s just a crime committed by some young people,” Bobby Bivens, president of the Stockton branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, was quoted as saying.





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OCI Overseas Citizens Of India Seem To Enjoy Rights Like Other Indians: Delhi High Court


Delhi High Court said Overseas Citizens of India appear to enjoy fundamental rights before law

New Delhi: 

The Delhi High Court has said that Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) appear to enjoy the fundamental rights of equality before law and freedom of speech and expression in the same way as any other Indian citizen does.

The court’s observation came while asking the centre to place before it the material based on which an intelligence report had recommended cancellation of the OCI registration of a US-based Indian-origin doctor.

Dr Christo Thomas Philip had challenged the cancellation of his OCI registration for alleged missionary activities in Bihar.

“In terms of section 7B (1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, all rights other than those specified in sub-section (2) of the said section are available to an OCI card holder. Although, Article 16 of the Constitution of India is specified in Section 7B (2) of the Act, Articles 14 and 19 are not included. Thus, prima facie, the rights under Article 14 (equality before law) and 19 (freedom of speech and expression) of the Constitution of India which are guaranteed to the citizen of India also appear to be extended to an OCI card holder,” Justice Vibhu Bakhru said.

The court issued the direction after finding that one of the facts, regarding the doctor’s place of birth, was “incorrect” in the report and there was no material on record to support the government assumption that he was acting as a medical missionary, the reason for cancellation of his OCI registration.

“The said report indicates that the petitioner was born in USA. This is stoutly disputed by the petitioner. He states that he was born in Kerala. Thus, one of the factual premise in the intelligence report appears to be incorrect. Although, the report states that the petitioner has been acting as a medical missionary, there is no material on record, which supports this assumption,” the court said.

OCI is a scheme introduced in response to the demands for dual citizenship by the Indian community.

The doctor, in his plea filed through advocates Robin David and Dhiraj Philip, claimed that the action was taken against him without any evidence and there was no basis for coming to the conclusion that he was involved in missionary and evangelical activities in India leading to unrest and law-and-order problems.

According to the petition, Dr Philip was granted the OCI card and a lifelong visa by the government to visit India on November 22, 2012.

He claimed he visited India several times in the past to serve as a volunteer doctor with Duncan Hospital at Raxaul in Bihar from January 2014 till he was allegedly “unlawfully deported” on April 26, 2016 from the IGI Airport in New Delhi.

He had moved the high court last year against his cancellation of OCI card by the Consulate General of India at Houston, US.

The court had asked him to approach the government against the Consulate General’s order and directed the authority concerned to decide his case “as expeditiously as possible”.

The revisional authority, which he had approached with his representation, on December 22 last year upheld the Consulate General’s decision.

In his present plea, the doctor challenged the revisional authority’s decision.

Apart from that, he also challenged the Consulate General’s August 1, 2017 decision to cancel his OCI card as well as the look-out circular issued against him.

He also sought directions to the authorities to permit him to visit his family members in Kerala.

 





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9-Year-Old Indian Chess Prodigy Shreyas Royal Wins Visa Battle To Stay In UK


Shreyas Royal has won a series of championships and is ranked number four in the world in his age group.

London: 

A 9-year-old Indian chess genius has won a battle today to stay in the UK after the expiry of his father’s work visa. The Home Office made an exception in the case due to his “exceptional talent”.

has won a series of chess championships and is ranked number four in the world in his age group and has the potential to be a future world chess champion.

After his father Jitendra Singh’s visa was set to expire, the family was expected to return to India. A number of British MPs had intervened in the case to urge UK home secretary Sajid Javid to make an exception in Royal’s case due to his exceptional talent.

“They [Home Office] just e-mailed me and told me they had considered my case and we are allowed to extend our leave to remain on Tier 2 general route,” Singh told the ‘Guardian’ newspaper.

“We are very happy and Shreyas is very happy. He jumped up on the sofa when he heard the news. I want to thank all those who helped and supported us… I would also like to thank the Home Office and the home secretary who considered our case,” he said.

The news was also welcomed by the English Chess Federation (ECF), which has been campaigning for the boy to stay on in the UK and hone his talent. ECF president Dominic Lawson said: “We… are delighted that our efforts to persuade the government to recognise Shreyas Royal’s exceptional talents have borne fruit.”

shreyas royal chess prodigy facebook

Shreyas is currently competing in the British Chess Championships. 

“When Jitendra got in touch with me this morning to tell me of the Home Office’s decision, it was obvious what it meant to him, his wife and of course Shreyas. We are also grateful to [the home secretary, Sajid Javid, for personally taking charge of re-examining the original decision of the immigration department,” he said.

In a joint letter to Mr Javid last week, Opposition Labour MPs Rachel Reeves and Matthew Pennycook said the UK would lose an “exceptional talent” if Shreyas was to leave.

Their letter said: “The UK should always encourage the world’s brightest, most talented people to work and make their lives here.

“Shreyas is recognised by the English Chess Federation as the country’s greatest chess prospect in a generation.”

Shreyas, who was born in India, moved to the UK aged three with parents Jitendra and Anju Singh from Bangalore six years ago. His father was offered a fixed-term contract under the intra-country transfer (ICT) route as an IT project manager with the Tata Group in the company’s UK office. The only way he could have extended his visa for a further four years is if he earned GBP 120,000 a year.

Reeves had said: “Government plan to force a chess prodigy to leave the country next month because his father earns less than GBP 120,000 a year.

“The UK shouldn’t be deporting its brightest young talent. Sajid Javid should intervene and allow Shreyas to stay in the only home he can remember.”

The UK Home Office had responded saying that “every visa case is assessed on its own merits in line with immigration rules”.

Their intervention came as Shreyas’ parents had appealed to the UK Home Office on the grounds that Shreyas is a national asset but were told in a letter earlier this week that while he showed “immense promise” it did not mean he could remain in the country.

The email received by the family on Friday read: “As advised during the call we have spoken to your employer … and have agreed with them that you will be able to submit an application to extend your stay in the UK under the Tier 2 (General) route.

“I would be grateful if you could let me know once the applications have been submitted so that I can ensure that they are processed smoothly.”

The Tata Group was happy for Mr Singh to continue working for them in the UK on his current salary if the visa issue was sorted out and he was able to remain in the UK.

Shreyas, nicknamed Shrez, learnt to play the game in Britain and has since represented England internationally. He is currently competing in the British Chess Championships. 
 





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