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Prominent Sikh-American Woman Running For Key Civil Rights Post

WASHINGTON – A prominent Sikh-American woman lawyer is in the running for leading the civil rights division of the US Department of Justice, a media report has said, amid a recent spurt in hate crimes against Indians+ in the country.

Harmeet Dhillon, 48, a senior Republican leader from California, interviewed with attorney general Jeff Sessions last week, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Chandigarh-born Dhillon had opened the second night of the Republican Convention in Cleveland in July by delivering a Sikh prayer.

If nominated by US President Donald Trump, San Francisco-based Dhillon would replace another Indian-American Vanita Gupta to the position in the Department of Justice.

Gupta, who was appointed by former US President Barack Obama, put in her papers once Trump was sworn in.

The name of Dhillon, an accomplished lawyer, has popped up at a time when the Indian-American community have been hit by at least three hate crimes in the last two weeks.

Established in 1957, the Civil Rights Division works to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the vulnerable members of society.

In this capacity, Dhillon would enforce federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, disability, religion, familial status and national origin.

According to the report, Dhillon has personally experienced hate crime and discrimination. “Her ex-husband, a Sikh doctor, was shot in 1995 on a New York City bus by a man whom she said cursed and said, ‘Get out of my way, you Hindu’,” the daily reported.

She herself has been a victim of hate mongering.

“During a campaign for party leadership post in 2013, she endured attacks from fellow Republicans who called her a Muslim terrorist sympathiser and a ‘Taj Mahal princess’,” it said.

“When you’re one of the best-known Republicans from the Bay Area, you are bound to attract lunatic, fringe people who will say certain things,” Shawn Steel, national committeeman to the RNC from California told the daily.

“She’s a gift to the Republican Party because she’s quite unafraid and very articulate,” Steel said.

Soon after Trump’s historic victory, Dhillon had said that she was open work in the Trump administration. “If I am asked to serve in a senior capacity, I will certainly consider it,” she told PTI in November.

In July last year, she was elected as the newest national committee woman of the Republican National Committee at the party’s State convention in May.

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