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Maharashtra

Convert Jinnah House into cultural centre: Mumbai BJP to Shah

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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.

Maharashtra

BJP asks MVA to unravel mystery of ‘missing’ ex-Maharashtra and ex-CoP

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Param-Bir-Singh

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra on Monday urged the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to come clean on the curious case of ‘missing’ former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and ex-Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.

Leader of Opposition (Council) Pravin Darekar said that the home department must find out their whereabouts and inform the people where Deshmukh and Singh are currently located.

“The government should ascertain whether Deshmukh is in Mumbai, Nagpur, his constituency, or elsewhere, and also where Singh is currently. The latter (Singh) is still an officer working under the Home Department,” Darekar told mediapersons here.

His comments came amid reports that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has sought the help of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to trace Deshmukh, who is sought by both the central agencies for probe.

Similarly, Singh is on the radar of Maharashtra police and a probe commission investigating his March ‘letter-bomb’ wherein he had levelled certain allegations of corruption against Deshmukh, leading to the latter’s resignation as Home Minister on April 5.

Subsequently, Deshmukh has been raided by both the ED and the CBI in the past six months. He also moved various courts, but ignored at least 5 summons from the ED, contending that the matter is pending before the courts.

Likewise, Singh, 59, who had proceeded ‘on leave’ in early-May and was reportedly living in Chandigarh, has not responded to a Special Investigation Team (SIT) or to notices seeking his appearance before the retired Justice K. U. Chandiwal Commission set up by the Maharashtra government.

Last week, Chandiwal had issued a bailable warrant of Rs 50,000 against Singh and placed the matter for further hearing on September 22. Earlier, Singh was fined thrice which he paid up, even as he moved the courts challenging the setting up of the probe panel.

Among those ‘skipping’ calls to join the probe is former state Intelligence Department chief Rashmi Shukla, who bunked Mumbai Police’s two summons in April in connection with the investigation into the alleged illegal phone-tapping case of several prominent persons.

However, in May, Shukla, 56, agreed to record her statement with a police team which went from Mumbai to Hyderabad, where she is posted as the Additional DGP of CRPF, South Zone.

The cases involving Deshmukh and Singh are also linked to the probe into the planting of an SUV with 20 gelatin sticks and a threat note near Mukesh Ambani’s house ‘Antilia’ in south Mumbai, followed by the death of the vehicle’s owner, Mansukh Hiran.

The Mumbai Police filed a chargesheet in the case earlier this month, detailing the sequence of events. The police also invoked terror and murder charges against all the accused.

Officials attribute the apprehensions of possible detention or arrest by the concerned agencies as the primary reasons behind VIPs or prominent personalities not turning up physically for investigations.

Instead, they rely on their battery of legal advisors or move the courts at various levels to evade the probe summons, a luxury which the commoners can ill-afford, officials said.

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Maharashtra

Maharashtra: For 2nd year, austere Ganeshotsav, sans crowds amid Covid fears

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Lord-Ganesha

For the second consecutive year, millions of people in Mumbai, the coastal Konkan region and other parts of the state on Friday cheerfully welcomed Lord Ganesha amid stringent restrictions to ward off the lurking threats of the Covid-19 ‘third wave’.

The state’s biggest public festival’s lowkey celebrations were further hit by an abrupt change in the rules — banning all physical ‘darshan’ at the 2,400-odd public associations which have erected marquees (pandals) for devotees — disappointing the organisers.

“We were all geared to conduct the festival with full Covid-19 protocols but at the last-minute, the new rule with Sec. 144 has been clamped. This has come as a shock to all, but we shall strictly adhere to the government norms for public safety,” the BrihanMumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshutsav Samanway Samiti (BSGSS) President Naresh Dahibhavkar told IANS.

The missing crowds could entail huge losses of over Rs
100-crore for the public associations which had hoped to collect devotees offerings in their coffers besides sponsors and advertisers, for carrying out various charitable services round-the-year, rued Dahibhavkar.

Undaunted, the ordinary folks lustily chanting ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’, started bringing the idols of their beloved lord since last night to their homes, housing societies, public or private complexes and associations, and virtually every household in villages, for the low-key but highly devotional celebrations over the next 10 days.

This morning, lakhs of families performed the ‘sthapna poojas’ followed by traditional ‘aartis’ to mark the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

On Saturday, a majority of the households would give the first send-off and perform the immersions of the Ganpati idols marking the one-and-half-day celebrations of the fest ending on September 19.

Considered the God of wisdom, the pot-bellied-elephant-headed Lord Ganesha brings in prosperity and good fortune and drives away obstacles (‘vigna’) and ill-luck.

This year also, the idol height is restricted to 4 feet for marquees and 2 feet for home worship — a significant drop from the pre-pandemic era when some of the majestic Lord Ganesha idols benignly stared down at devotees from 20-feet plus pinnacles.

Hoping to make the best of the austere celebrations, the BSGSS have decided to enhance their Covid-19 volunteer forces by at least 20 per cent to grapple the potential ‘third wave’, said Dahibhavkar.

“From tomorrow, we shall launch health campaigns, organise blood donations and other social activities in a planned manner to avoid crowds,” he added.

Celebrated across the country, the Mumbai-Pune-Nashik-Konkan quadrangle is the main epicentre of the festival with some of the biggest celebrations witnessed here annually.

Not willing to take any chances with the ‘third wave’ apparently round-the-corner, the government has permitted only ‘online’ darshans since even temples and other places of worship are shut as per the Centre’s directives.

“We have made all necessary arrangements for online darshans,” said actor Aadesh Bandekar, the Chairman of Shri SiddhiVinayak Mandir Trust, Mumbai, who is accorded the Minister of State (MoS) status.

The curbs notwithstanding, lakhs of idols of Lord Ganesha came to the homes of people, ranging from Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, ministers, Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis and Pravin Darekar, NCP President Sharad Pawar, state Congress President Nana Patole, city unit chief Bhai Jagtap, leaders of various parties, lawmakers and activists.

Lord Ganesha is also visiting top industrialists, film stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Urmila Matondkar, Nana Patekar, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, the Kapoor clan, the Dutt family, and many more.

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Maharashtra

Rs 65 cr loan default: Lookout notices for Narayan Rane’s wife, son

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Narayan-Rane

In another embarrassment for Union MSME Minister Narayan Rane, the Pune police’s Crime Branch has issued a ‘Lookout Circular’ against his wife and legislator son in alleged loan default cases of over Rs 65 crore

Confirming to IANS that the lookout notices have been taken out on September 3, Deputy Commissioner of Police Shrinivas Ghadge, however, flatly declined further comment in the matter.

The lookout notices mention Rane’s wife Nilam Narayan Rane as a co-borrower of a loan account of Rs 25 crore in the name of Artline Properties Pvt Ltd and son Nitesh Narayan Rane as a co-borrower in a loan account of Rs 40 crore in the name of Neelam Hotels Pvt Ltd.

Both these loans accounts with the Dewan Housing Finance Ltd DHFL) Mumbai, were subsequently classified as ‘non performing assets’ (NPAs), as per the norms of the National Housing Bank and the Reserve Bank of India, say the police notices.

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