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One Lone Indian Voter Amidst 411 Lions!

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One Lone Indian Voter Amidst 411 Lions!

One Lone Indian Voter Amidst 411 Lions!

Ahmedabad: He remains one of India’s most prized voters. Mahant Bharatdas Darshandas is the lone voter in the midst of Gujarat’s Gir forest, home to the Asiatic lion, for whom an entire election team sets up a polling booth every election – and will do so again on April 30.

Darshandas, in his early 60s, is the lone occupant of a hamlet called Banej in Gir forest. He has been casting his vote for the past elections, including the 2004 and 2009 parliamentary elections and the 2007 and 2012 state elections.

This time too, the Election Commission of India is making all arrangements to ensure that Darshandas, a temple priest, gets to cast his precious single vote. Darshandas lives in Banej Tirthdham, a pilgrimage spot inside the Gir sanctuary and looks after an ancient Shiva temple there.

With the Election Commission mandating that no voter should “ordinarily travel more than 2km to reach the booth”, every election time a polling team travels around 35 km to reach the hamlet of Banej inside the Gir forest, located in Junagadh district.

“We are only following the EC guidelines, which has said that no voter should have to travel more than 2 km to vote,” Junagadh Collector Alok Kumar Pandey said.

“Around four-five polling officials will travel to Banej on April 29 night carrying with them the polling material, including the Electronic Voting Machine. They will be accompanied by forest guards. On April 30 they will set up the polling booth for the single voter,” Pandey said.

Banej falls under Una assembly segment of the Junagadh parliamentary constituency.

According to Pandey, the poll team will travel in a SUV from Una to Banej.

Has the polling team ever encountered lions while travelling to Banej?

“A couple of forest guards always accompany the polling team. Till date there has been no incident of any wild animals attacking the polling team,” Lalit Padalia, Joint Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat, said.

Though in the normal course polling hours extend through the day, the election team at Banej would be able to wind up and return the minute Darshandas has pressed the EVM button and his finger is marked with the indelible ink, said Pandey.

Across Junagadh, the Election Commission will set up 2,203 polling stations on April 30, he added.

Gujarat, the home state of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, will have single phase polling for the 26 Lok Sabha seats on April 30.

Prominent among the 334 candidates in fray are Modi, the Gujarat chief minister, senior BJP leader L. K. Advani and senior Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry.

SOUTH ASIA

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

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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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SOUTH ASIA

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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SOUTH ASIA

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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