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Demands to Revoke Section 118 to Allow Outsiders Buy Land in Himachal Face Resistance

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Demand to Revoke section 118 of HP tenancy & land reforms act

Shimla-After revocation of special status under Article 370 for Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, a slew of myths, half-truths and cunning manipulations is in circulation in media. Majority of common people, unaware of the history behind the Article 370 and 35A and their complex constitutional aspects, are made to believe that now India owns J&K lock, stock, and barrel and that it would solve every problem related to the development of the state and terrorism.

Party workers are chanting hymns of Bhartiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh. Only the Communist Party of India and a Section of Indian National Congress are condemning it and terming as an undemocratic step, which was taken without following constitutional provisions.

Amid this slew of speculations, one of the main advantages of abrogating these Articles that is being preached is that now any Indian citizen can buy land in Jammu and Kashmir and set up businesses, which will lead to the development of the region.

At the same time, the special status granted to other states under Article 371 is being questioned and demands are being made to relax it or revoke it too. Under this article, North-East states like Nagaland, Manipur, Assam etc. have rules that prohibit non-domiciliary persons from owning land in these states. These states are granted special status based on their demographic and cultural histories.

The state of Himachal Pradesh, too, has the Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972. Section 118 of this Act listed in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution prohibits all non-agriculturists, whether they are Himachalis or non-Himachalis, from buying land in the State.

On Wednesday, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal demanded that outsiders be allowed to purchase land in Himachal Pradesh.

Similarly, MP Asaduddin Owaisi, while taking part in discussion in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, asked the government that when he would be able to buy land in Himachal Pradesh.

Other than that, migrants living in Himachal Pradesh for several decades were also heard raising the same demand.

In response to these demands, the HP Congress Committee has criticised Badal’s remark arguing that Section 118 of the HP Tenancy & Land Reforms Act, and said cannot be compared to Article 370.

Congress said this Act was promulgated in 1972 by the first Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Dr Y.S. Parmar, to safeguard the interests of the small farmers. Moreover, Congress said, people can buy flats in the state. Also, sub-section 2 (g) has provision for non-agriculturists to purchase a house, or land for building a house, from the Himachal Pradesh Housing and Urban Development Authority (HIMUDA).

Also, unlike J&K, there is no restriction on women married outside the state on buying flats and lands.

Land can be bought for building a house or setting up a business or taken on lease for setting up industries after taking consent of the state government. The newly built residential building of Priyanka Vadra in Charabra of Shimla district is one example of it.

Further, Congress said that forest cover in the state would be destroyed if outsiders were allowed to buy land.

Congress termed this demand of providing relaxation in buying land in Himachal Pradesh to non-Himachalis as some sort of conspiracy in nexus with BJP to dilute the Act.

The President of HPCC, Kuldeep Singh Rathor, alleged BJP government of making efforts to relax the norms to provide land to the industrialists who arranged funds for the party during the recent Parliamentary elections.

This is why, he said, Congress has already launched “Save Himachal” campaign before the 114th anniversary of Dr Y.S. Parmar on August 4, 2019.

So far, BJP is also criticising this demand and terming comparison of Article 370 with Section 118 as illogical.

Misc News/Press Release

Congress Holds ‘Save Democracy March’ in Pachhad Alleging EC of Inaction on BJP’s MCC Violations

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Congress march in pachhad

Sirmaur-Congress today organized “Save Democracy March” in Pachhad constituency ahead of the by-election. The rally was led by HPCC President Kuldeep Singh Rathore, who later submitted a memorandum to the Chief Electoral Officer, Himachal Pradesh, through SDM, Rajgarh, alleging a foul play and violations of Model Code of Conduct by BJP leaders and ministers Mahinder Singh Thakur, Birender Kanwar and Speaker Rajeev Bindal in Pachhad assembly constituency.

He also said that government machinery was misused on a large scale and government servants were being pressurised to work for BJP candidate and that Election Commission has failed altogether to check violation of Model Code of Conduct.

Rathore claimed that despite all foul play and violation of MCC by BJP, Congress is all set to register a landslide victory in Pachhad assembly constituency and Dharamshala Constituency because party workers have poured in great efforts in door-to-door campaigning in both the assembly constituencies.

Rathore has been campaigning in these constituencies ever since the date of announcement of elections. He had campaigned in all areas of Dharamshala assembly constituency from October 2 to October 9, 2019.

Thereafter, he moved to Pachhad assembly constituency and has been campaigning there from October 10. Rathore claimed that these by-elections will set a stage for departure of BJP government from Himachal Pradesh in 2022 as Congress is comfortably winning both these seats in the bye-election 2019.   

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Misc News/Press Release

Peaks of Kullu and Lahaul Receive Fresh Spell of Snow, Lower Reaches Hit by Hailstorm, Rain

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Snowfall in kullu manali

Kullu– Including Rohtang Pass, peaks of Kullu, Manali, and Lahaul are receiving a fresh spell of snow. At the time of writing Rohtang Pass had received about two to three inches of snow, five in Shikula Pass, and four in Baralacha Pass. Manali’s Chandrkhani Pass has also received a fresh spell of snow

The roads are still open and traffic is moving. However, it is expected that if this spell of light snowfall continued for the few next hours, the roads would be closed.  The Manali-Leh and Manali-Kaza Highway have already been closed for traffic officially. 

Manali and Lahaul also recorded spell of heavy rain on Thursday afternoon. Due to rainfall and snow in higher peaks, the temperature has dropped by several notches.

Kullu valley was hit by a spell of heavy hailstorm, which caused damaged to vegetable and other crops in Shiah, Gadsa and Hawi valley of the district. The SDM, Kullu, Akshay Sood, said the damaged caused to crops would be assessed soon.

Snowfall in Kullu-manali

Similarly, some parts of Mandi district also witnessed hailstorm, leading to crop damage.

kullu manali snowfall

During next couple of hours, the HP Met Department has predicted light to moderate rainfall and snowfall along with thunderstorm in Kangra, Chamba, Mandi, Kullu, Hamirpur, Bilaspur and Shimla district.

The hoteliers in Kullu and Manali are expecting that snow would attract tourists to the valley.

The Met Department has predicted rain and snow on October 18 too. After that, the weather is likely to be dry till October 23.

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Campus Watch

HP Technical University Hamirpur Turned into Political Arena, Deprived of Its Autonomy: ABVP

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HPTU Hamirpur ABVP Conference

Hamirpur- The Himachal Pradesh Technical University, Hamirpur, (HPTU) has been turned into a political arena by the Himachal Pradesh Government. The Minister for Technical Education, Bikram Singh, has forgotten that this college also comes under his jurisdiction and that he is responsible for its development, said Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad unit of HPTU in a press conference organized on October 16, 2019.

The conference was addressed by President of ABVP’s HPTU unit, Suraj Jariyal, Secretary Ankita Sharma, and Robin.

The situation has worsened to such an extent that ABVP has now opened a front against its own government. Suraj termed the neglection of the college by the Minister of Technical Education as most unfortunate. He alleged the University is awaiting development for the past 10 years, however, this issue was never raised in the Legislative Assembly. The classes are being conducted in the building of a boys school. An additional fee is being charged for facilities such as computer lab, internet, and library. However, in reality, the varsity doesn’t even have its own building and campus.

The government made no provision of a budget for the university, which shameful in itself. The state government keep forming new rules for the university very frequently. These rules are of pure political interest, he said. ABVP alleged that the government is trying to fulfil its political interests through the only technical university of the state, which is why it keeps forcing new rules on the varsity.

Recently, the state government and the Department of Technical Education issued a Tughlaqi order prohibiting the university from starting new courses and making any recruitment. ABVP criticised this decision terming it a mockery of the autonomy of the university. 

Unit secretary Ankita advised the Minister for Technical Education to read the constitution of the varsity, which empowers the university to make new recruitments and start new courses anytime it wants. The university does not need to seek permission from either the government or the Minister to do so, Ankita said.

ABVP has demanded that the government should stop depriving the varsity of its autonomy, provision of a budget is made, vacant posts of regular teaching and non-teaching staff are filled up, and new courses are started at the earliest at the new campus.

The university is lacking behind in education and development due to apathetic attitude of the state government, Suraj said. ABVP warned the government that if it did not roll back its decision, then more aggressive protests would be launched. If needed, a ‘Jail Bharo’ campaign would be initiated by ABVP, he said. 

 

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