Samajwadi Party Demands Beni’s Ouster
New Delhi: Samajwadi Party members disrupted both houses of parliament Monday, demanding union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma’s sacking for allegedly saying their party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had “terrorist links”.
Verma’s party Congress also expressed its displeasure over his reported remarks.
In the Lok Sabha, the issue was first raised during zero hour by SP member Shailendra Kumar and party MPs then trooped towards the speaker’s podium, seeking an apology from Verma and his dismissal from the council of ministers over the issue.
Verma contended that he had not made any such statement, and so there was no question of an apology. “Where is the proof that I have said such a thing? I did not link terrorism to any religion,” he said.
SP members, however, remained adamant as Mulayam Singh rose to speak and attacked Verma.
Mulayam Singh said Verma’s comments followed a Muslim convention he had addressed in Lucknow, where several Muslim religious leaders spoke about the contribution of the community in the service of the nation.
The SP chief said he would continue to fight for the cause of minorities. “How can we forget their contributions in national development as also in securing our borders? How can he say that Muslims are terrorists? He should apologise,” he said.
As SP members continued to raise slogans, Verma said: “For me, terrorism has no religion, no colour. The demolition of Babri Masjid and the post-Godhra riots are also terrorist incidents.”
“But he (Mulayam) joined hands with those who demolished Babri Masjid, like Kalyan Singh. His party also helped BJP to win in Gujarat,” he claimed.
In the din, Speaker Meira Kumar directed other members to raise their issues, but later adjourned the house till 2 p.m.
As soon as the house re-assembled at 2 p.m., Samajwadi Party members again rushed towards the speaker’s podium, demanding the dismissal of Verma.
In the Rajya Sabha, the issue was raised when it met after the lunch break at 2 p.m.
The upper house was scheduled to take up a debate on the general budget. However, members from the SP demanded that the Congress offer a clarification on Verma’s statement.
“The Congress must clarify that the statement was Beni Prasad Verma’s own comment and the party does not endorse it,” SP member Naresh Agarwal said.
E.M.S. Natchiappan, who was in the chair, urged the SP members to sit down.
However, the agitated MPs trooped near the chairman’s podium again, shouting slogans and demanding Verma’s resignation.
Amid the din, the upper house was adjourned till 3 p.m. When it met again, it was adjourned for the day after disruptions.
Verma at a rally in Gonda, his constituency in Uttar Pradesh, had alleged that the Samajwadi Party chief had links with terrorists.
“He is a goon and a robber. How will he protect his state? He has links with terrorists,” said Verma, a former Samajwadi Party leader.
The Congress sought to control the damage over Verma’s reported remarks. “Party has taken the matter seriously…There is dignity of language. Everyone should keep this in mind,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.
He said Mulayam Singh was the head of the largest party supporting the government from outside and Verma was a minister in that government.
Talking to reporters, Mulayam Singh demanded that Verma should be sacked from the cabinet.
Verma, however, ruled out his resignation and made light of the demand. “Has he made me the minister?” he asked.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
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.
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.
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.
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.