Indo-American News: May 17, 2024

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mAy 17, 2024• Hat Trick for DAV Students IAPAC’s Coffee Conversation Sewa’s 18th National Confab Over 140 delegates attended Sewa International’s 18th National Conference. PAGE 9 IAPAC hosted a Coffee Conversation aiming to illuminate Missouri City’s entrepreneurial landscape. PAGE 5 Coverage of Holi celebrations continues with events at Chinmaya Mission Houston and Texas Gaushala PAGE 4. W E D D I N G S , S P E C I A L E V E N T S , T E N T E D E V E N T S , O U T D O O R C O U R T Y A R D 3 3 3 0 F M 1 4 6 3 | K a t y , T X 7 7 4 9 4 | 8 3 2 . 8 5 5 . 5 5 2 0 | p a l m r o y a l v i l l a . c o m Indo American News 2470 Dairy Ashford, Houston, TX 77077 • 713.789.NEWS (6397) • Special Reports Community Briefs Local Politics South Asians in the News Published weekly from Houston, TX Friday, May 17, 2024 | Vol. 43, No. 20 $1 Enchanting Bhagavad Gita Chanting at CMH P2

Enchanting Bhagavad Gita Chanting at Chinmaya Mission

Houaron: Pujya Gurudeva Swami Chinmayananda structured Chinmaya Mission on the knowledge enshrined in Vedantic texts such as the Bhagavad Gita. An incomparable visionary, he understood the need to embed, in young minds, the glory of the Gita. To actualize this vision, he introduced the annual tradition of Chinmaya Gita Chanting Competitions (CGCC), a practice that continues to this day in Chinmaya Mission centers worldwide.

An apex celebration of Pujya Gurudeva Swami Chinmayananda’s 108th Janma Jayanti, the annual Gita Chanting Competition was held in a serene and spiritual atmosphere at Chinmaya Mission Houston (CMH) on May 4th, 2024.

The event was inaugurated by Pujya Acharya Sri Gaurang Nanavaty. Pujya Gaurang Uncle lovingly emphasized Pujya Gurudeva’s vision of connecting our children with the Bhagavad Gita. He encouraged them to chant the Gita which will gradually evolve into learning its meaning and then living life happily, the Gita way. He explained to the children and the audience about how the event was a competition for the individual to better oneself and not just a race of comparison.

Over 130 students had registered for this year’s competition which focused on Gita Chapter 4 – Karma Sannyasa Yoga. The Bala Vihar students from kindergarten to Grade 12, categorized into six groups, participated with enthusiasm. The groupwise competitions were held among varied audiences, and the children chanted and presented in a superb manner. Every parent, teacher, and guest who witnessed these performances was highly impressed with the quality of diction and chanting of the students. For those children to perfect the pronunciation of the Sanskrit verses of the divine Gita, committed training is key. The students diligently practiced since the beginning of the year, and their hard work and devotion culminated in the superior quality of their presentations. In addition to chanting the verses of the fourth chapter of the Gita during the CGCC, the students were also tasked with translating and explaining the meaning of select verses. The difficulty level of these tasks was based on Grade levels. All groups did an exceptional job in the section where they had to explain the deeper meaning of chosen verses. Special mention should be made of the group of high school students. The audience was highly impressed with their clarity of thought and the ease with which they succinctly presented the summary of Chapter 4 and explained the meaning of select verses with unique everyday analogies. The memorable chanting competition of the Gita ended with a sumptuous lunch for the happy children and their families.

On the Sunday morning of May 5th, cheered by the main congregation at Chinmaya Smrti, Pujya Gaurang Uncle awarded certificates and recognized the winners in all categories as well as all the children who learned the verses of Gita chapter 4 this year. To participate in the next round of this year’s special CGCC, 14 participants were carefully selected from all groups to represent Chinmaya Mission Houston and advance to the state-level competition which will be held in Dallas on May 18th. May Pujya Gurudeva’s grace prevail on these children who seek to understand the Bhagavad Gita and follow its guidelines in their daily lives. Hari Om! For more information about Chinmaya Mission Houston, Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya and its activities please visit, or call temple 281 568 1690 or Jay Deshmukh 832 541 0059 or Bharati Sutaria 281-933-0233.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, AprIl mAy 17, 2024 • www.IndoAmerIcAn-news May 17, 2024 2
Photos by Bhararth Rao, Ashutosh Kak. By Sreedevi Gundamaraju Over 130 students had registered for this year’s competition which focused on Gita Chapter
4 – Karma Sannyasa Yoga. The Bala Vihar students from kindergarten to Grade 12, categorized into six groups, participated with enthusiasm.

Consul General Manjunath Joins Indian Festival in Downtown Denver

denver: Consul General DC Manjunath was the guest of honor at the Indian Festival in Denver, the first such event supported by the City of Denver to recognize , showcase, and celebrate the Indian culture and contributions of the Indian American community. The festival was organized by the Laya Dance Academy.

The celebrations included lively performances and delectable cuisine, highlighting the deep cultural ties between Indua and the United States.

Mayor Mike Johnstonand the City of Denver supported the event and declared May 12 as ‘Indian American Heritage Celebration Day’ in Denver.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mAy 17, 2024• May 17, 2024 3
CG Manjunath in Denver

Hat Trick for DAV Montessori & Elementary School

HouSton: DAVMES celebrates the exceptional winners who clinched the PSIA State Championship trophy for the Elementary division …third year in a row!

May 9: The air was filled with excitement as Doug Ray delivered the trophy to the school. 14 students participated, and

DAVMES team triumphed with an astounding 9 first-place medals, 4 second-place medals, 3 third-place medals, 3 fourth-place medals, and 1 sixth-place medal. This remarkable achievement is a testimony to the DAVMES dedicated teachers and hardworking students. To know more about DAVMS, please visit website:


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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, AprIl mAy 17, 2024 • www.IndoAmerIcAn-news May 17, 2024 4

IAPAC Hosts Conversation on Entrepreneurial Opportunities

miSSouri City, texaS -On Sunday, May 5, 2024, The Indian American Political Action Committee hosted a Coffee Conversation at The Royal India Cuisine in Missouri City, aiming to illuminate the city’s entrepreneurial landscape. Despite Mayor Robin Elackatt’s absence due to weatherrelated emergencies, the event, co-

chaired by Dr. Rajasree Nambron and Dr. Purusottam Sahoo, proceeded with enthusiasm.

Dr. Roopa Gir, IAPAC’s President, introduced the organization, stressing its commitment to civic engagement and fostering dialogues through initiatives like “Conversations over Coffee.” King Banerjee, former Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce Chairman, shared insights from his journey as the owner of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts, underscoring the importance of community involvement and personal connections in entrepreneurship.

Highlighting the Chamber’s leadership program and its role in nurturing diverse perspectives, Mr. Banerjee emphasized aligning entrepreneurial pursuits with personal values and leveraging community support for success. Attendees engaged in fruitful discussions, fueled by coffee courtesy of The Royal India Cuisine.

IAPAC continues its non-partisan efforts to enhance IndianAmerican voter participation and community engagement, exemplified by events like Coffee Conversations. For more information and upcoming events, visit [www.].

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mAy 17, 2024• May 17, 2024 5 COMMUNITY
IAPAC Board Members from left to right: Letto Thomas, Naveen Kochoth, Purusottam Sahoo, speaker King Banerjee, Roopa Gir, Indrani Sarkar, chair Rajasree Nambron, and intern Niketa Pati
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Prof. Reddy is Editor of Neuroscience Journal

ColleGe Station, texaS: NRI Scientist Dr. Samba Reddy, Regents Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics and Director of the Institute of Pharmacology and Neurotherapeutics at Texas A&M University School of Medicine, has been appointed as the Editor of Experimental Neurology, a prestigious international medical journal.

Experimental Neurology, renowned for its focus on neuroscience research on the mechanisms underlying neurological disorders, is considered a top-level journal in the field, boasting an impressive impact factor of 5.6. The journal’s scope encompasses a wide range of topics, including neural development, neuroregeneration, neuroplasticity, and transplantation, making it a pivotal platform for disseminating cutting-edge research in neurology and neuroscience.

With over two decades of experience in academia and research, Dr. Reddy has established himself as a global leader in neurotherapeutics, particularly in developing new treatments for epilepsy and other brain disorders affecting millions worldwide.

A TAMUS Chancellor EDGES Fellow and Board-Certified Pharmacist, Dr. Reddy’s research endeavors have been consistently funded by prestigious institutions such as the National Institutes of

Health (NIH) and the US Department of Defense (DOD), with annual grant funding exceeding $1.6 million. His work has led to the development of novel neurosteroid treatments for seizures and nerve agent neurotoxicity, as well as the FDA approval of groundbreaking medicines such as Brexanolone for post-partum depression and Ganaxolone for seizures in CDKL5-deficiency epilepsy.

In addition to his remarkable research achievements, Dr. Reddy is a dedicated educator, teaching medical and graduatelevel courses and mentoring numerous students and postdoctoral scholars. His commitment to advancing the field of neuroscience is further evidenced by his service on various national panels and organizations, including the NIH, DOD, and US Pharmacopoeia.

Dr. Reddy’s appointment as Editor of Experimental Neurology is a testament to his unwavering dedication to advancing scientific knowledge and improving healthcare outcomes for individuals suffering from neurological disorders. Under his editorial leadership, Experimental Neurology is poised to continue its tradition of excellence in publishing groundbreaking research that shapes the future of neurology and neuroscience.

Dr. Samba Reddy, an Indian citizen, hails from Cherlapally in Parkal subdivision of Warangal District in Telangana.

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Gujarati Sahitya Sarita Hosts the Launch of a Book: ‘Smriti Sampada’

A recently published book ‘Smriti Sampada’ (Treasure of Memories) was launched by Gujarati Sahitya Sarita (GSS) Houston on 27th April, 2024 at Sri Sharadamba Temple Auditorium.

More than 165 literature-lovers spent the evening to celebrate the public dedication (Lockarpana) of this book. The event was attended by 10 co-authors (out of 15) who travelled to Houston from all corners of the USA. The book was released by Panna Naik, a respected poetess popularly known as ‘Videshini’. The special guest was Kishore Desai; an enterprising publisher who has published a quarterly in America called ‘Gurjari Digest’ for last 38 years. He published this book in collaboration with ‘Gujarat Vishwakosh Trust’, a well-recognized publisher and promoter of Gujarati literary work in India.

Indian diaspora, who migrated from Gujarat – India, have presented stories of their trials and tribulations in a foreign (USA) land as their biographies. The stories describe their experiences, struggles and adventures while

The contributing authors of the book “Smriti Sampada” and invited guests at the event

achieving their goals. Seeds of the character they developed during these experiences have spread across the vast seas from the land of Gujarat to America which will greatly motivate generations of Indians to come, all over the world.

Six of the 15 authors of the book are Houston residents, and some of them have been associated with GSS for years. The authors include widely recognized academician, administrator, author, economist, engineer, entrepreneur, medical doctor, scientist and professionals from many other fields.

The program started with Saraswati Vandana by Shrimati Jyotsana Ved followed by a warm welcome to all by the GSS president

Nikhil Mehta. A beautiful Lampdance was performed by the GSS member ladies of the local Gujarati community under the direction of Uma Nagarsheth, a well-known choreographer and dancer from Sugar Land. The song is written by poet Dalpat Padhiyar and sung by Jalpa Joshi which started with the line: “I kept the lamp on the threshold of my home and my home was filled with light…“and the last line of the song was “I understood the letter which was hidden in the darkness under the light of that lamp.”

The editor of the book Rekha Sindhal introduced the guests and invited writers to share their perception about the book. The speak-

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ers included Preeti Shah Sengupta from Fl., Dr. Natwar Gandhi from Washington DC, Rekha Sindhal from Tennessee, Sapna Vijapura from California, Jagdish Patel Nevada; Dr. Kamlesh Lulla of NASA Houston, Saryu Parikh from Austin, Devika Dhruv, Dr. Arvind Thekdi and Mansukh Vaghela all three from Houston intrigued the audience. Special Guest Panna Naik and Kishore Desai also addressed the gathering. Messages from Authors of ‘Smriti Sampada’ who could not attend the dedication, Dr. Indubahen Shah (Houston), Dr. Jayant Mehta (Nashville), Dr. Babu Suthar (Pennsylvania), Dr. Dinesh Shah (Florida) and Shri Ashok Vidwans (New Jersey) were

read out by Nikhil Mehta.

The guests were honored with a certificate of appreciation from Gujarati Sahitya Sarita, Houston. Appreciation gifts were given to all guests, participants, volunteers and donors of the organization, which included rare picture of the ‘Rise of the Earth from the Moon’ from Dr. Kamlesh Lulla.

Following this, a ‘Sherakshari’ was presented which was greeted with thunderous applause by the audience. Theme was Gujarat and was organized by Devika Dhruv. Riddhi Desai gave the vote of thanks and the literary evening came to an end.

The program was concluded with a delicious meal. The attendees expressed their gratitude to the organizers for organizing the event and making the book available to the local Indian community. The copies of the book were available but were all sold out and can be requested from the Editor Rekha Sindhal or the Publisher Kishore Desai. Please contact Nikhil Mehta @ 832.660.8008 (Email: if anyone would like to receive the copy

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, AprIl mAy 17, 2024 • www.IndoAmerIcAn-news May 17, 2024 8 ARTS

Sewa International Meets for 18th National Conference in Illinois

SCHaumBurG, il: Sewa International USA, the Hindu faith-based non-profit organization, held its 18th National Conference at IndiaHub in Schaumburg, IL, on May 4 and 5. The conference brought together over 140 volunteers, including Sewa’s directors, advisory board members, executive team leaders, chapter presidents, coordinators, and other functionaries.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and the Consul General of India in Chicago, Somnath Ghosh, attended the event. Krishnamoorthi highlighted the significant contributions of the Indian American community, noting its representation in various fields, including Congress. Referring to the recent census findings, he said the Indian American community is the fastest-growing, best-educated, and most prosperous segment of America. He expressed his support for Sewa International and assured the gathering that he would be a part of all its endeavors.

Bhagavad Gita -- The Life Guide

Gauranga Das Prabhu, Director of Govardhan Eco Village in Maharashtra and popular spiritual and motivational speaker, and Jay Shetty, author, life coach, and advisor to global celebrities, participated in a “fireside chat” at the event. Gauranga Das said the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu spiritual treatise, is the best guide to a fulfilling life and mental well-being.

Reflecting on his spiritual journey, he commended Sewa for its active engagement in giving back to society. Gauranga Das, citing the Gita, said that charity is a duty without expectations. He empha-

sized the importance of performing duties according to time, place, and circumstance. Drawing a comparison between Lord Krishna’s description of sewa (selfless service) and Sewa volunteers’ work, he said that success lies in living for others. Jay Shetty said that absorption in any spiritual practice leads to intensity in action and sensitivity

in dealings. He praised Sewa for embodying this principle, highlighting Sewa’s intensity in action and commitment, and sensitivity in helping and reaching out to those in need. He commended Sewa for making selfless service the focus of human life, especially in a world distracted by various other pursuits.

Indian Diaspora in 180 Countries

In his opening remarks, Srid-

har Talanki, a member of Sewa’s Board of Directors, emphasized the vision of a harmonious, happy world experiencing oneness through sewa, noting that Sewa International has set a benchmark for excellence through its service activities. Shyam Parande, a member of the Board of Advisors, highlighted the presence of Indians in 180 countries, noting that despite

centuries of oppression, Hindu heritage continues to flow like the river Ganga.

Arun Kankani, President of Sewa International, released Sewa’s annual report and announced the new team, including the board of directors, teams, and advisors. He also released a booklet highlighting the milestones of Sewa’s 20year journey since its founding in 2004.

Venkat Santanaraman, Vice President, Finance, highlighted the remarkable 22% increase in revenues in 2023. Contributions from various sources supported this growth, including 67% from individuals, 14% from family funds, and 10% from matching donations.

Sandeep Khadkekar, Vice President of Marketing, and Swadesh Katoch, Vice President of Disaster Management, led sessions on marketing strategies and impactful initiatives, such as the Bhutanese Refugee Empowerment (BRE) and Sewa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shrinarayan Chandak Honored Sewa honored Shrinarayan Chandak, a member of Sewa’s Advisory Board and leader of various dharmic causes. Chandak and his wife Asha have lived in the US for the past 55 years, contributing significantly to the Indian American community. Sewa’s Advisory Board members Saumitra Gokhale and Shyam Parande commended Shrinarayan Chandak’s dedication and organizational skills that had strengthened the community’s fabric in the US.

This Indian ‘Frequent Flyer’ Pinched Valuables from Overhead Bins

new delHi: Rajesh Kapoor (40) was a frequent flyer for a bizarre reason. According to cops, in the past one year, Kapoor took about 200 flights — 3-4 sorties in a day at times — with the sole purpose of stealing from co-passengers.

His ‘frequent flyer miles’ paid off handsomely and he was able to buy a hotel in central Delhi. But his ‘miles’ finally expired when he recently targeted two people flying to the US via Delhi and allegedly took away jewellery worth lakhs of rupees, prompting the police to begin a hunt.

hough Kapoor had provided forged documents and an incorrect mobile number to book the flight, they managed to track him down using technical surveillance.

DCP (airport) Usha Rangnani said Kapoor meticulously planned his every move. “He would use the identity documents of his deceased brother while booking tickets. He would mostly stalk passengers of connecting flights and generally target elderly women carrying handbags, assuming they would not notice the theft immediately,” she added.

According to Rangnani, Kapoor used to strike either before completion of boarding or while the aircraft was mid-air.

“Exploiting the chaos of boarding, Kapoor would secretly rifle through overhead cabins, carefully assessing and stealing valuables from handbags of unsuspecting passengers who would be settling into their seats. His

method, carefully timed to coincide with the distractions inherent in the boarding process, allowed him to operate undetected,” the DCP said.

If the target sat at a distance, Kapoor would even request the crew members to change his seat so that he could sit near the person, she added.

Kapoor had been allegedly operating since 2005. For many years,

he allegedly stole from passengers in AC coaches of trains. Later, he switched to flights.

Kapoor landed in the net following police complaints from two passengers in a span of two months. While a US citizen travelling on an Amritsar-Delhi Air India flight approached cops on Feb 22, a Hyderabad-Delhi passenger of an Air India flight lodged a com-

plaint on April 11. Both said they had lost jewellery kept in their cabin bags.

Cops analysed the passenger manifest of these flights and scanned footage of over 100 CCTV cameras to finally zero down on the suspect. His phone number was obtained from the airlines, but turned out to be fake. Technical surveillance revealed his original number and the location was traced to Paharganj. It was found that the suspect switched on his handset only for a brief period. His photograph was obtained from social media platforms and shown to people in Paharganj. He turned out to be the owner of a hotel in the area. A raid was conducted and Kapoor was arrested.

Police said the suspect may be linked to 11 similar cases. They also arrested his associate, Sharad Jain (46), who allegedly helped him dispose of the stolen goods. “Jain is a jeweller based in Karol Bagh. He received and bought the stolen items from Kapoor,” DCP Rangnani said. ToI, File photo

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mAy 17, 2024• May 17, 2024 9 COMMUNITY
Over 140 people, including national executives, volunteers, and supporters from various US chapters attended Sewa International’s 18th National Conference, at IndiaHub in Schaumburg, IL Congressman Raja Krishnamoorty, motivational speaker Gauranga Das Prabhu, and author and life coach Jay Shetty (left to right) addressed the gathering.

New H-1B Guidelines following Termination of Employment

waSHinGton dC: When nonimmigrant workers are terminated from their jobs, they may be unaware of the options available to them and might mistakenly believe that departing the country within 60 days is their only choice. This comes in the wake of significant job cuts by prominent companies such as Google, Tesla, and Walmart, which have had a profound impact on the lives of numerous H-1B visa holders. When nonimmigrant workers are terminated from their jobs, they may be unaware of the options available to them and might mistakenly believe that departing the country within 60 days is their only choice.

Upon the termination of a nonimmigrant worker’s employment, whether voluntary or involuntary, they may generally take one of the following actions, if eligible, to maintain a period of authorized stay in the United States:

- File an application for a change of nonimmigrant status;

- File an application for adjustment of status;

- File an application for a “compelling circumstances” employment authorization document; or

- Be the beneficiary of a nonfrivolous petition to change employer.

If any of these actions are taken within the 60-day grace period, the non-immigrant’s authorized stay in the United States can surpass 60 days, even if they lose their previous nonimmigrant status. However, if no action is taken within the grace period, the worker and their dependents may be required to leave the United States within 60 days or by the end of their authorized validity period, whichever comes first.

A non-immigrant’s status is usually based on an approved Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, or a subsequently approved Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, after admission.

The period of authorized stay generally includes the time during which a timely filed nonfrivolous petition or application requesting an extension of stay or change of status is pending with USCIS.

Regulations permit a discretionary grace period that allows workers in E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, O-1, or TN classifications (and their dependents) to be considered as having maintained status in that same classification after the end of employment for

up to 60 consecutive calendar days or until the end of the authorized nonimmigrant validity period, whichever is shorter (the “maximum 60-day grace period”). See 8 CFR 214.1(l)(2).

The worker can preserve their period of authorized stay in the United States, however, as long as the worker timely files, if eligible, an application for a change of nonimmigrant status, an application for adjustment of status, or an application for a compelling circumstances employment authorization document, or if the worker is the beneficiary of a nonfrivolous petition to change employer before their nonimmigrant status expires.

If the worker is an eligible H-1B

nonimmigrant and an employer files a new nonfrivolous H-1B petition on their behalf, the worker can begin work immediately after USCIS receives the petition and continue to maintain their H-1B status.

Before a regulatory change in 2016, there was no grace period for a terminated nonimmigrant worker. The maximum 60-day grace period provides time for a nonimmigrant worker to retain their nonimmigrant status. Alternatively, the 60-grace period provides time for the worker to request a change of status, which may allow the worker to continue their job search from within the United States, even if the grace

period and the worker’s current nonimmigrant status expire. This is because a worker may remain in an authorized period of stay based on a timely filed nonfrivolous application to change to a new nonimmigrant status.

The grace period also provides time for certain spouses of nonimmigrant workers to continue their own employment if they have an Employment Authorization Document or are employment-authorized incident to status. Within the grace period, eligible H-1B nonimmigrant workers may also begin employment again as soon as a new employer properly files a new H-1B petition, rather than waiting for the new petition to be approved. A worker filing for employment in another classification must wait to begin employment until the new petition is approved, but given the availability of premium processing, the wait for petition adjudication is often less than 15 business days.

For more information, visit options-for-nonimmigrant-workers-following-termination-of-employment -- ToI, USICS

Indian Youth Pleads Guilty for Ramming Vehicle into White House

waSHinGton dC: A 20-year-old youth Sai Varshith Kandula with family roots in Chandanagar in Hyderabad and living in the US with a Green Card, has pleaded guilty to damaging federal property when he rammed a vehicle into Lafayette Square in Washington last year.

Kandula, who drove from St Louis, hired a U-Haul truck and rammed into Lafayette Square and unfurled a Nazi flag.

After his arrest, Sai Varshith Kandula reportedly told the police that his intention was to drive ‘get to the White house, seize power, and be put in charge of the nation’.

Sai Varshith Kandula told the court that he was not a US citizen and that he was born in India.

When the case came up for hearing on May 13, the defense attorney told the court that Sai Varshith had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and that he had mental health issues.

It may be recalled that on May 22 last year, Sai Varshith who had reportedly made plans for the last six months about what to do, reached Washington from St Louis where he was staying with his parents.

After he came out of the airport, he took a U-Haul truck on rent and drove it towards the White House. His vehicle rammed into the bollards at Lafayette Square and police who reached the spot arrested him.

On May 13, the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Columbia issued a press release in the

case in which it mentioned that Kadula of St Loius, Missouri ‘pleaded guilty today in an attempted attack on the White House’ on May 22, 2023 and driving a U-Haul truck into the fence surrounding the building.

“Kandula pleaded guilty to a charge of willful injury or depredation of property of the United States,” the office said.

The plea agreement was announced by US Attorney Matthew M. Graves, special agent in charge Matthew Stohler of the US secret service Washington field office, FBI special agent in charge Sanjay Virmani of the FBI Washington field office’s counterterrorism division, chief Jessica M. Taylor of the US Park Police, and chief Pamela A. Smith of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

The US district court judge Dabney L. Friedrich scheduled sentencing for August 23, 2024. “Kandula is an Indian national who was born in Chandanagar, India. At the time of the incident, he was a lawful permanent resident of the US with a green card,” the offic said.

According to court documents, Kandula flew on a commercial

flight from St. Louis, Missouri, to Washington D.C. in the afternoon of May 22, 2023, connecting through another airport on a oneway airline ticket. Kandula arrived at Dulles International Airport about 5:20 p.m., and rented a truck at 6:30 p.m. He stopped for food and gas, and then drove to Washington, D.C., where he crashed into the barriers protecting White House and President’s Park at 9:35 p.m. at the intersection of H Street, Northwest and 16th Street, Northwest.

Kandula drove onto the sidewalk, sending pedestrians running from the scene. After striking the barriers, the truck backed up in reverse, then lurched forward, striking the metal barriers a second time. The second impact disabled the truck which began smoking from the engine compartment and leaking

fluids. In the documents, it was noted that Kandula next exited the vehicle and went to the back of the truck. From a backpack he removed a flag, a threeby-five foot red-and-white banner with a Nazi Swastika in the center, and brandished it.

US Park Police and the US Secret Service officers arrested Kandula at the scene and took him into custody.

According to the plea agreement, at the time Kandula crashed the truck into the White House perimeter, he was attempting to gain access to the White House to seize political power.

“Kandula’s intent was to replace the democratically elected government with a dictatorship fueled by ideology of Nazi Germany and for himself to be put in charge of the United States. Kandula admitted to investigators that he would have arranged for the killing of the US President and others if necessary to achieve his objective. His actions were calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, the documents said.

Kandula’s actions caused $4,322 in damage to the National Park Service and over $50,000 in damage to U-Haul International. This amount included costs for repairing the metal bollard barriers to their original condition and ensuring structural soundness, oil and chemical removal, spill cleanup, and disposal of fluids from the crashed U-Haul, and the cost of the destroyed U-Haul truck. It was mentioned in the court documents that Kandula planned the attack for several weeks. Prior to renting the truck and crashing it on White House grounds, he made several attempts to gain access to vehicles or armed security guards. For example, on April 22, 2023, Kandula requested 25 armed guards and an armored convoy from a security company located in Virginia.

On May 4, 2023, Kandula attempted to contact several other companies in an attempt to rent a large commercial tractor-trailer truck, a dump truck, or another large truck. Kandula was unsuccessful in arraigning for security guards or a tractor-trailer truck or dump truck. Kandula had attempted to arrange for the services of these security guards and the use of large vehicles in order to carry out his offense against the US government.

This case was investigated by the US secret service, the FBI’s counterterrorism division, the US park police, and the MPD. -- ToI

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‘Srikanth’: An Honest and Understated Biopic

Story: The biopic follows the journey of the visually-impaired industrialist Srikanth Bolla (Rajkummar Rao), his educational and entrepreneurial challenges, and how he overcame them with the help of his teacher and business partner.

Review: When a famous personality’s tale is fictionalised for the silver screen, you can expect a biopic that revels in glorification. Srikanth, on the other hand, takes a refreshingly honest and understated approach. The narrative abstains from the larger-thanlife hero trope, opting for a subtler portrayal.

Writers Sumit Purohit and Jagdeep Sidhu’s narrative is simple and doesn’t have the scope for pumped-up energy or thrills of a sports drama or a historical event. Still, director Tushar Hiranandani keeps one engaged, focusing on the strength of a visually-impaired man who overcomes challenges not with pity, but with intelligence and by outsmarting situations. He also influences the much-needed change in how persons with disabilities (PwDs) are viewed and treated in the country.

While the film effectively showcases Srikanth’s challenges with the Indian educational system and professional opportunities, it occasionally falls into the trap of repeating thoughts. For instance, society’s belief that blind people can only resort to begging or making candles to earn a living. Or, people sceptics walking out while Srikanth is still talking.

The movie also highlights the stark contrast between India and the West. Indian universities reject Srikanth despite him topping the 12th board exams, but he is accepted by four international universities purely on merit. It also presents India’s lack of road safety and poor infrastructure.

Rajkummar Rao delivers a powerful performance as Srikanth, particularly excelling in portraying the character’s internal struggles that come with success. He shines in the scenes when his indignation turns into insecurity and the endearing quality of laughing at himself. There’s a scene when Srikanth trips, hurts his forehead, and fools his girlfriend, Swati (Alaya F) that he’s got his eyesight back.

While Rao convincingly portrays the adult Srikanth, the depiction of his teenage years seems a tad

unconvincing. Jyothika is equally impressive as Devika, Srikanth’s supportive teacher. Sharad Kelkar plays his friend, mentor, supporter, and business partner, Ravi, with finesse — he is the friend everyone needs, as he exudes quiet strength and understanding. Alaya F delivers a charming performance as Srikanth’s love interest. However, the character deserved more depth; her role could have extended beyond just being a romantic element in the story.

The film has hummable romantic tracks by Sachet-Parampara (Tu Mil Gaya and Tumhe Hi Apna Maana Hai), but the hero of the soundtrack is Papa Kehte Hain from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, recreated by Aditya Dev. Saxophonist ID Rao lends an anthemlike quality that heightens the film’s triumphant feel, especially in the second half, which evokes a range of emotions.

Breaking the biopic mold, Srikanth offers a refreshingly honest portrayal that celebrates potential over glorification. It will leave you feeling inspired and sparing a thought for those with disabilities who deserve human dignity and equal opportunities like all of us! -- Times of India

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