Congressman Crowley Honored for His Work on Behalf of Indian American Community

Jackson Heights Indian Merchants’ Association, Queens community members laud Crowley’s leadership, policy victories on Indian American, Sikh issues

NEW YORK (TIP): Rep. Joe Crowley (DQueens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, was honored by the Jackson Heights Indian Merchants’ Association and broader Queens Indian American community for his efforts on behalf of Sikh Americans and the greater Indian American community, in Jackson Heights on Thursday, January 30.

Crowley was recognized by the community leaders that included, among others, the JHIMA officials- Shiv Dass, Jaswinder Singh, Subhash Kapadia, Nitin Vora and Mohinder Verma-, and community leaders that included Ravi Batra, Pritam Singh Gilzian and Darshan Singh Bagga, among others, for his successful efforts to convince the federal government to begin collecting data on hate crimes committed against Sikh-Americans and Hindu-Americans; in the U.S. Congress in October 2013; and his ongoing work to end the presumptive ban on Sikhs serving in the U.S. military.

3Crowley is flanked by Deepak Bhardwaj (JHIMA Board of Director) to his right, and Jaswinder Singh (Chairman, JHIMA) to his left. Others seen in the picture are Pritam Singh Gilzian, Former President of Gurdwara Baba Makhan Shah Lobana and President of Richmond Hill Punjabi Merchants’ Association (extreme left) and Darshan Singh Bagga, Sikh community leader, with association with a number of organizations (extreme right)

“I am humbled to be recognized by Shiv Dass and the Jackson Heights Indian Merchants Association, members of the Queens Sikh community, and the greater Indian-American community in Queens,” said Rep. Crowley, who serves as the cochair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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“The Indian-American community is an integral part of Queens and our city, contributing to our economic success and enriching our culture. I am proud to have fought for and won concrete victories on behalf of the community and I will continue to do so.” Nearly 100 community members and leaders from New York’s Sikh-American and the broader Indian-American community attended the event.

4Crowley joins Jackson Heights Indian Merchants Association members and members of the Sikh

Over the past two years, Crowley has been at the forefront of a major effort in Congress to convince the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to begin collecting data on hate crimes committed against Sikh- Americans and Hindu-Americans – introducing legislation and sending multiple letters to DOJ and FBI.

In July 2013, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller announced that the bureau would begin to implement this program. Crowley is leading the call on the U.S. military to end its presumptive ban on Sikh articles of faith, including turbans and beard. He is spearheading a bipartisan letter requesting that the U.S. Armed Forces update their appearance regulations to allow Sikh Americans to serve while abiding by their articles of faith.

In October 2013, Crowley led his colleagues in creating the first-ever Congressional Diwali celebration. The event brought together members of Congress, prominent Indian leaders, and members of the Indian-American community to build a greater understanding of differing cultural backgrounds and increase understanding and tolerance.

5Council Member Daniel Dromm with JHIMA members and community members
“I’m so pleased the FBI is going to begin tracking hate crimes against Sikhs and Hindus, because that is the first step toward preventing the crimes in the first place. But, there is much, much more we need to do. One of my top priorities is ensuring that Sikh Americans can serve in our nation’s military – we took some steps forward on this issue last week but there is more that must be done.

I also think it is high time that India become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council – and I am going to be focusing my efforts on that,” added Crowley. On the occasion, a few community members were honored by Crowley for rendering useful services to the community.

They included Jaswider Singh and Deepak Bhardwaj of Apna Bazar; Mahindra Patel and Harshit Patel of Patel Bros. ; Srinivas Ranga of New York Life; Daniel Thomas of Thomson Travels, and Neeta Bhasin of ASB Communications who brought Diwali to Times Square in 2013. Those who were recognized included Pritam Singh Gilzian and Harbaksh Singh Tahli, editor of Shaane- Panjab weekly Punjabi newspaper.

Politicians present included State Senator Toby Stavisky, Council Member Daniel Dromm, and Queens Borough Deputy President Leroy Comrie. Mohinder Verma, who has been serving in the capacity of Secretary of the association for almost 35 years, the longest period any Indian has served an organization in a responsible position, and Harshit Chugh thanked the gathering and ensured all had a good fill before leaving.

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