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US post office may carry Indian American's name Dalip Singh Saund

WASHINGTON, February 2 2005

A post office in the US may soon be named after Dalip Singh Saund, the first Indian American to have been elected to the US Congress, with the House of Representatives giving its nod to a historic bill.

In a historic move, the house unanimously passed House Resolution (HR) 120 by a voice vote on Tuesday. The bill passed with a 410 to 0 vote.

It designates the US postal service office building located at 30777 Rancho California Road in Temecula, California, as the Dalip Singh Saund post office building.

Saund made history in 1956 when he became the first Asian elected to the US Congress. He was re-elected two more times and represented what was then the 29th congressional district.

The bill will come into effect after it is passed by the Senate and signed by President George W. Bush. It is probably the first time a public building in the US will be named after an Indian American.

"The 'Dalip Singh Saund Post Office Building' will honour an American who followed his dream to the United States, broke barriers, and served as a representative of the people," said Rep. Darrell Issa, who introduced the bill in the house.

"This Act of Congress will preserve Congressman Saund's legacy and honours the success of all immigrants from India and their accomplishments," said Issa, a Republican from California's 49th district, a part of which is the same as the district from which Saund was elected.

Saund represented Riverside and Imperial Counties from 1957 to 1963 before his career was cut short following a stroke he suffered while campaigning for a fourth term in office.

The bill had three co-sponsors including the former co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus for India and Indian Americans, Rep. Joe Wilson (Republican-South Carolina), Rep. Joe Crowley (Democrat-New York) and Rep. Ken Calvert (California).

Issa's spokesperson Frederick Hill said the Congressman was approached by his Indian American constituents to bring in the bill. "Issa thought naming a post office after Saund would be a great way to honour the former congressman," Hill said. "It can be a source of pride for the Indian-American community."

Indian Americans here also made a failed bid to get the post office to issue a stamp in Saund's name, especially as the 50th anniversary of his being elected to Congress approaches in 2006.

The bill will go over to the Senate, which is usually quick to pass such bills, Hill said. It will then be signed into law by President Bush.

Born in the village of Chhajulwadi in Punjab in 1899, Saund came to the US in 1920 to study at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a doctorate in mathematics. For nearly 30 years he was a successful farmer in Imperial Valley.

During this time, he began fighting discriminatory laws against Indians and, in 1949, he and other Indians finally earned the right to become US citizens. In 1952, Saund was elected and served for four years as justice of the peace in Westmorland, California. IANS

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