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BJP Government Allowed Priyanka, Bhushan’s Himachal Land-purchase



Priyanka Vadra, Prashant Bhushan

Priyanka Vadra, Prashant Bhushan

Shimla: Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Vadra and lawyer Prashant Bhushan are among 881 outsiders who were allowed to buy land in the past three years in Himachal Pradesh, Revenue Minister Kaul Singh said here Monday.

Priyanka Vadra got permission in 2011 under Section 118 of the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972, to purchase 922 sq m land in Charabra, the minister said in a written reply in the assembly.

The land, meant for building a cottage at a height of 8,300 feet amid thick verdant forests of pine and cedar, is 15 km uphill from state capital Shimla.

Likewise, Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan’s Kumud Bhushan Educational Society was allowed to purchase 4.68 hectare land near Palampur town in Kangra district in 2010.

Both the permissions were granted by the previous BJP government.

In another written reply, the revenue minister said that in the past three years, 246 cases of violation of Section 118 had been registered.

As per the written reply, 61 violations in this period were recorded in Shimla district and 47 in Hamirpur, the home district of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

The 881 outsiders who were granted permissions included 52 educational societies and three private universities to set up bases.

In 2007, Priyanka Vadra bought a three-and-a-half bigha (one bigha is 0.4 hectare) agricultural plot on which she had constructed a two-storey five-room cottage.

However, it was razed to the ground in 2011.

Official sources said it would now be re-constructed in typical hill architecture style with wooden frames and a sloping roof.

The land allotted to Bhushan is under scrutiny of the present Congress government.

“On the face of it, the permission granted to Prashant Bhushan is questionable. We have sent 11 queries to the deputy commissioner concerned,” Kaul Singh told reporters in Shimla last month.

He said the government would act on the basis of the deputy commissioner’s report.

According to the state’s laws, land-use of a tea garden could not be changed as these are exempted under the ceiling act.

It was alleged that the land, worth several crores of rupees, was given to the educational societies for just a few lakh rupees.

The minister had said that the state government will probe all land deals where it suspects that there is a violation of Section 118 during the BJP regime.

Under Himachal Pradesh’s land laws, only the state’s permanent residents can buy land in the state. Others who want to purchase land for non-agricultural purposes have to seek relaxation under Section 118.


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



Nawaz sharif

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




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



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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