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34 Killed In Himachal Bus Accident

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         34 Killed In Himachal Bus Accident Shimla: A total of 34 people, including eight women, were killed when a state roadways bus skidded off the road and fell into a 1,000-foot-deep gorge Monday night in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district, an official said.

All 34 bodies have been recovered, most of them Tuesday morning, from the wreckage of the bus, while six injured people, including conductor Sumir Kumar, have been hospitalised, Deputy Commissioner K.R. Bharti said Tuesday.
The 42-seater bus, ferrying passengers from Palampur to Asha Puri, a village known for a hilltop shrine, was overcrowded, one of the survivors told police.
However, most of passengers alighted from the bus at Makol village, just a few kilometres before the accident, the survivors said.
The civil authorities had to call in Indian Army personnel from Palampur, which is 250 km from here, to undertake the rescue operation that lasted more than 12 hours as the accident spot was treacherous and thickly forested.
Rescue workers used ropes to go down into the gorge to recover the bodies and the injured. The driver was adjusting his seat when the accident occurred. “Most probably, the driver was distracted while adjusting the seat,” Bharti said.
Official sources said mechanical failure was mainly responsible for the accident.
The government has ordered a magisterial probe into the accident. It announced a relief of Rs.20,000 to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs.5,000 each to the injured.
Most of the victims were locals and belonged to closely-knit families belonging to Asha Puri. Governor Urmila Singh and Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal have expressed grief over the accident.
This is the second major accident in the state in less than a month. Fifty-three people were killed and 46 injured Aug 11 when an overcrowded private bus rolled into a 300-foot-deep gorge in Chamba district in the state.
More than 580 people have died in over 1,600 incidents of road accidents this year in the state, according to Dhumal. State capital Shimla recorded the highest number of deaths. “As many as 586 people have lost their lives in the state from Jan 1 to July 31 in 1,669 accidents,” Dhumal said in the state assembly Aug 29.
He said in a written reply that 1,072 people died in the state in 3,099 accidents that occurred last year.

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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