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Pravin Togadia’s “anti-Muslim speech” sparks row, EC seeks report

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Congress and several other parties on Monday came down heavily on Pravin Togadia for “spreading venom” through his reported remarks that Muslims should be stopped from buying property in Hindu areas and said that the VHP leader should be “hospitalised” for treatment. 

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has sought the recording of the speech made by Togadia in Bhavnagar on Saturday. 

“They (EC officials) are in the process of acquiring the recording of the statement made by Togadia and after listening to it they will decide the future course of action,” Bhavnagar district collector and returning officer P K Solanki said in Rajkot today. 

While NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal said the Indian society has no place for such people, RSS dismissed the report, saying that “no swayamsevak thinks on such divisive lines.” 

“He always spreads venom, you know that. And he belongs to that category of people in this country who do not believe in the unity and the integrity of India. What can you say about people like this?,” Congress leader and Union minister Kapil Sibal said. 

“It (statement) spreads venom and it is for the authorities to decide,” he said. 

Togadia had reportedly joined a group of VHP and Bajrang Dal members in a street protest in Rajkot on Saturday outside a house purchased by a Muslim businessman. Togadia reportedly told the gathering to take forcible possession of the house. 

Condemning the statement, Congress leader Rashid Alvi said, “I think Togadia should be given treatment. He should be hospitalised. 

“In this country, if Hindus stay in a Hindu area and Muslims in a Muslim area, and they are not allowed to buy property in each other’s areas, it will be against the Constitution,” Alvi said. 

Naresh Gujaral of Shiromani Akali Dal said while he is not aware of what Togadia has exactly said, India has survived because of its democracy. 

“Democracy can survive only if there is accommodation and acceptance for each other….We can’t be rigid about these things and anybody who speaks this kind of language has no place in our society,” he said. 

Denying the reports that Togadia has made such a statement, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said, “I have spoken to Praveen Togadia. He completely denies making such comments. It is fabricated. 

“No Swayamsevak thinks on such divisive lines. They think of all people as one. One people, one nation,” he said. 

Slamming the statement, JD(U) leader K C Tyagi said, “Togadia seems to be influenced by Taliban mentality….No action has been taken against him due to a weak government”. 

Fatehpuri mosque’s Mufti Mukkaram said the VHP leader should be arrested immediately. 

The “government should take action against him. The Election Commission should also take action against him. This is conspiracy to spread riots. He should be booked for spreading communal tension,” he said. 

CPM lashed out at the VHP leader for his “hate speech” and sought his immediate arrest, saying that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who also holds the Home portfolio, should take this action. 

“As the home minister of Gujarat, Modi should himself act (against Togadia) for his hate speech. If he doesn’t, then it is clear that Togadia said all this with his blessings,” CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said. 

Yechury’s party colleague Brinda Karat demanded the immediate arrest of Togadia, saying, “This shows the Modi style of governance of giving protection to those who should be behind bars for his hate speech and communal statement in Bhavnagar.” 

Yechury said that under the ‘Gujarat model’, “there has already been compartmentalisation of areas in the state for Hindus and Muslims. This is ghettoisation of India and is the real Gujarat model which is the real danger.” 

He also demanded immediate action against Togadia by the Election Commission and the law and order machinery. 

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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