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Priyanka Gandhi seeks permission to stay in her Himachal cottage

The plot is close to The Retreat, the summer holiday resort of the Indian President.

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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

Shimla, Aug 6 : Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has sought the permission of the BJP government in Himachal Pradesh to spend three weeks along with her family and friends in the cool climes of her dream house set amid the cherry, peach and apple trees on the outskirts of the state capital.

The five-room cottage — with wooden frames and shingled exteriors and a sloping tiled roof — has recently completed its construction at a height of more than 8,000 feet amid thick forests of pine and cedar in Charabra, some 15 km uphill from Shimla.

A state Congress leader told IANS that Priyanka Gandhi wants to stay in her cottage from August 10 for a minimum of 20 days. This will be her first homecoming as the construction of the cottage has just got over.

“We are awaiting the response of the government. She has assured to follow all the health protocols while coming and staying in her cottage that include 14-day mandatory quarantine and getting the Covid-19 tests done for all the people who are accompanying her,” said the leader, requesting anonymity.

People accompanying her include some of her family friends from Delhi, Gurugram and Bengaluru, said sources.

Ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic, Priyanka Gandhi, along with her children and mother Sonia Gandhi, had been regularly visiting to inspect the construction work of the two-storey house on a 4-bigha plus agricultural plot that was purchased in 2007.

Congress leader and former Cabinet Minister Vidya Stokes had played an important role in helping Priyanka Gandhi buy a three-and-a-half bigha (one bigha is 0.4 hectare) agricultural plot for around Rs 47 lakh in 2007. The then Congress government in the state had relaxed norms to let the Vadras buy the land.

The plot is close to The Retreat, the summer holiday resort of the Indian President.

Oberoi Group’s luxury spa Wildflower Hall also lies close to Priyanka Gandhi’s cottage. The Congress leader is one of the most high-profile people to build a house in Himachal Pradesh, years after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee chose Kullu Valley for a cottage.

The work for the cottage was initially handed over to Delhi-based architects in 2008.

In 2011, the entire building was pulled down — not because of any dispute — but apparently the Gandhi scion was unhappy with the size of the rooms and the building design, leaders privy to the Gandhi family said.

Later, it was re-constructed and redesigned by renowned Shimla-based builder Tenzin in the hill architecture style with strong foundation, with an open terrace at the top, and bigger rooms and drive-in.

The then Himachal Pradesh government had relaxed land rules under Section 118 of the Land Reforms and Tenancy Act to facilitate the sale for the Gandhi family.

The law prohibits outsiders from buying land in the hilly state and those who wish to buy land for non-agricultural purposes have to seek a relaxation from the government.

India

Sonia Gandhi, Son Rahul Return From US After Her Medical Check-Up: Reports

Sources had said her medical check-up was overdue and was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Sonia Gandhi and Rahul

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi returned from abroad early today, sources said.

Mrs Gandhi, 73, had gone to the United States for her routine medical check-up on September 12, two days ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament. Rahul Gandhi had accompanied her during the visit.

Sources had said her medical check-up was overdue and was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sonia Gandhi had cleared the Congress’ organisational restructuring before leaving for the US.

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After military talks, India and China announce slew of decisions to bring down tensions in eastern Ladakh

The decisions were mentioned in a joint statement issued by the two armies late Tuesday, a day after the sixth round of Sino-India Corps commander-level talks that lasted for 14-hours.

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New Delhi: Announcing a slew of decisions to bring down tensions in eastern Ladakh, the Indian and Chinese army have decided to stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate the environment.

The decisions were mentioned in a joint statement issued by the two armies late Tuesday, a day after the sixth round of Sino-India Corps commander-level talks that lasted for 14-hours.

The two armies also agreed to strengthen communication on the ground, avoid misunderstandings and misjudgments and earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries.

“The two sides had candid and in-depth exchange of views on stabilising the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China border areas,” said the statement released by the Indian Army.

It said the two sides also agreed to take practical measures to properly solve problems on the ground, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

It said both sides also resolved to hold the 7th round of military commander talks as soon as possible.

“They agreed to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen communication on the ground, avoid misunderstandings and misjudgments, stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may complicate the situation,” the statement said.

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Lok Sabha passes Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020

As per the Bill, Kashmiri will be the official language along with four other languages — Dogri, Hindi, Urdu and English.

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Lok Sabha

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020 with voice vote, allowing Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, to be official languages in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking on the Bill, Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy said that it was a demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the languages they speak should be official languages of the UT.

Since 53.26 per cent of people in Jammu and Kashmir speak Kashmiri, there was a need to include it as the official language of the state, he said.

The minister added that people in Jammu and Kashmir speak as well as write Kashmiri, so there is no problem in including it as an official language.

As per the Bill, Kashmiri will be the official language along with four other languages — Dogri, Hindi, Urdu and English.

Reddy said that 26.64 per cent of the people in the UT speak Dogri, while Urdu, which is currently an official language, is spoken only by 0.16 per cent the population.

The minister said while the government is not against any regional language, the Bill gives importance to those 70 per cent people who speak Kashmiri and Dogri in the UT.

For the last 70 years, Urdu has been the official language of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that 2.36 per cent of the population in the UT speaks Hindi.

Opposing the Bill, Hasnain Masoodi of National Conference said the Central government did not have the legislative competence to frame a Bill in this regard.

He said it is not a fact that only 0.16 per cent of the population in J&K speaks Urdu which is a link language between the Jammu region and the Kashmir Valley.

Masoodi asked that if only 0.16 per cent people in the UT speak Urdu, why would the government include it as an official language. No other state has five official languages, he added.

Participating in the discussion, Union minister Jitendra Singh said that he was surprised as the National Conference is opposing the inclusion of Kashmiri as an official language because his party ruled in the region for almost 60 years on the name of “Kashmiriat”.

“You have exposed yourself in front of Kashmiris by going against the language,” he said.

The Bill was later passed by a voice vote with Masoodi as the only Opposition member who objected to the draft legislation.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah later said in a tweet that it was a momentous day for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “With this historic Bill…Long-awaited dream of the people of J&K comes true! Kahmiri, Dogri, Urdu, Hindi and English will now be the official languages of J&K.”

Under the Bill, Shah said that special efforts will be made for the development of major regional languages like Gojri, Pahari and Punjabi.

Along with this, the Bill will also strengthen the existing institutional structure for the promotion and development of regional languages.

Lauding the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his commitment towards restoring the culture of Jammu and Kashmir through this Bill, Shah said that he wants to assure his sisters and brothers in Jammu and Kashmir that the Modi government will leave no stone unturned to bring back the glory of the erstwhile state.

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