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Convert Jinnah House into cultural centre: Mumbai BJP to Shah



The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mumbai unit has urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah to convert the historic ‘Jinnah House’ in Mumbai into a South Asia Centre for Arts & Culture (SACAC), a BJP leader said here on Wednesday.

BJP city chief M.P. Lodha called on Shah in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum on the demand as part of the Centre’s plans to auction 9,280 evacuee properties belonging to people who opted to settle in Pakistan post-Partition in 1947.

“I met Amit Shah ji and requested him to convert the Jinnah House into an SACAC, as was decided in 2017, and there is a board put up there to this effect,” Lodha said.

The Centre had handed over the Jinnah House to the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) a few years ago.

The historic Jinnah House, located at Malabar Hill, was once the Mumbai home of barrister-cum-politician Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who founded Pakistan, became its first Governor-General and is revered as the ‘Quaid-e-Azam’ by the neighbouring country.

After Jinnah left India, as per historical records, he wanted his erstwhile house to be hired out to a small European family or to a refined Indian prince with an expected rent of Rs 3,000 per month.

He had conveyed his wishes to the then Bombay Province Governor Sri Prakasa, who was deputed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, seeking to know what the Pakistani leader wanted to do with his former property after Partition.

However, post-Independence, the Jinnah House, along with thousands of others in the country, was stamped as an ‘Evacuee Property’, and was leased out to the British Deputy High Commissioner between 1955-1982.

Since then, the Jinnah House is lying vacant and awaiting a new occupant for the past four decades.

Incidentally, when the then Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf visited India for the Agra Summit in 2001, he had proposed to then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to hand it over for use as Pakistan’s Consulate in Mumbai, but nothing moved in this direction.

Lodha has been pursuing the matter with the Centre for many years for a final decision on the Jinnah House, built in 1936 on a prime chunk of 2.50 acres, while Jinnah’s former home on New Delhi’s APJ Abdul Kalam Road has been leased out to a foreign embassy.

The Jinnah House was linked with several momentous events in the history of India’s Independence. It was the venue for the critical talks on India’s Partition in September 1944 between Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah, and in August 1946, Jinnah held another round of talks here with Nehru.


Omicron concerns: Mumbai, Pune, Nashik postpone schools’ reopening




Amid concerns of the Covid-19 variant Omicron, the reopening of schools from Class 1 to 7 has been postponed by 10-15 days in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik, officials said here on Tuesday.

The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner I.S. Chahal and Pune Municipal Corporation Mayor Murlidhar have said that schools in the two cities — both among the worst-hit in the Covid-19 two waves in 2020 and 2021 — will now reopen from December 15.

Similarly, the Nashik Municipal Corporation, which was also among the badly-hit cities in the past two years of the pandemic, has also postponed the schools reopening plan to December 10.

However, all schools in the rest of Maharashtra are likely to reopen from December 1, for Class 1 to 5 in the rural areas and 1-7 in the urban areas with full Covid protocols, as announced earlier by School Education Minister Prof. Varsha E. Gaikwad.

Taking precautions, the BMC is currently tracking all passengers who have arrived in the city from the 12 Omicron-hit nations since November 10 to detect if any of them are infected by the new strain.

The state government has also sought information on all passengers landing at the three international airports in the state in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, besides those arriving from other states, by flights originating from the 12 nations.

The BMC has already announced that a 14-day institutional quarantine regime will be compulsory for all such passengers and home isolation will not be permitted under any circumstances.

The state, major cities and district health authorities are gearing up to face the challenge of Omicron by readying hospitals, beds, ICUs, liquid medical oxygen stocks, medicines, doctors, para-medical and non-medical staff, and other health infrastructure to cater to a possible patient rush in the coming weeks, even as Covid-19 vaccination drive has gained momentum.

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Mamata Banerjee to meet Sharad Pawar, India Inc in Mumbai




 West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will call on the Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar during her Mumbai visit starting here Tuesday, official sources said here.

“CM of West Bengal Ms. Mamata Banerjee-ji will pay a courtesy visit to our party President Sharad Pawar Saheb tomorrow, 3 pm at his residence ‘Silver Oak,’ on Dec. 1, in Mumbai,” said NCP National Spokesperson and Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik said.

According to indications, Banerjee will arrive here later Tuesday and plans to meet several top industrialists to attract investments to her state, and invite them for the upcoming Bengal Global Business Summit in April 2022.

It was not immediately clear whether she would meet Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who is presently convalescing after a spinal surgery.

On a new high after sweeping the West Bengal Assembly elections last May, Banerjee is currently flapping her wings for a national political flight.

Last April, Pawar was planning to campaign for Banerjee during the Bengal Assembly elections, but was unable to do so owing to certain constraints.

Both Pawar and Banerjee are keenly making efforts to engage the national opposition parties and provide a united fight to the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Besides Pawar, the All India Trinamool Congress chief enjoys a great rapport with Thackeray, whom she has met in the past, though her relations with the Congress — the third partner in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government here — are strained.

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Nawab Malik granted bail in defamation case filed by BJP activist




 A Mumbai court on Monday granted bail to Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik in a Rs 100 crore defamation suit filed by Bharatiya Janata Party activist Mohit (Kamboj) Bhartiya.

Malik, who responded to a notice by the Mazagaon Magistrate Court three weeks ago, was granted a bail of Rs 15,000 and the matter has been posted for further hearing on December 30.

Last month, the BJP functionary had filed the defamation case against the NCP leader for allegedly defaming him by revelations that his brother-in-law Rishabh Sachdev was among the persons detained by the Narcotics Control Bureau after it raided the Cordelia Cruise on October 2 and was released later.

Bhartiya contended that the minister allegedly used his power and position to raise doubts and spread canards about the release of his brother-in-law, and has spoiled his image and reputation.

After examining the evidence provided by Bhartiya, the Magistrate ruled that prima facie, Malik’s statements at his media briefings on October 9 and 11 pointed at defamation and issued the process against him.

Interacting with media, Malik said that he had honoured the court notice and appeared before the Magistrate in the defamation suit filed by Bhartiya, but denied the all contentions of the complainant.

“We have also brought on record how Bhartiya himself is a fraudulent person involved in a scam of Rs 1,100 crore and the raids by the Central Bureau of Investigations on him. When the scam started coming out, he changed his name from Kamboj to Bhartiya, we have submitted all evidence to the court and will provide more later,” he said.

Soon after the ministera¿s expose, Bhartiya had sent him a couple of legal notices and when the allegations continued, he filed the defamation case against Malik before the Mazagaon Magistrate Court.

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