This Week Himachal Pradesh: ‘Stolen,smuggled’ and still sought

In 1946,Naik Kirpa Ram of the 8th Battalion of the 13th Frontier Force Rifles was awarded the George Cross for gallantry

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Published: June 21, 2012 12:32:57 am

‘Stolen,smuggled’ and still sought

In 1946,Naik Kirpa Ram of the 8th Battalion of the 13th Frontier Force Rifles was awarded the George Cross for gallantry. Today,his wife Brahmi Devi is struggling to get it back after it was allegedly stolen and smuggled,and almost went up for auction abroad. The medal is currently in the possession of a London-based businessman,Ashok Nath. Dix Noonan Webb had put it up for auction in December 2009 before it was stalled at the Himachal Pradesh CID’s intervention. Claims to establish Brahmi Devi as the rightful owner,however,have hit a roadblock with the UK Directorate of Legal Services dismissing it. With Nath asserting he is the bona fide buyer,Brahmi Devi’s only option is a legal battle. The octogenarian says it’s a matter of honour,not just hers but the country’s,and vows she will not give up as long as she is alive.

Dhumal vs Shanta kumar

Bickering within the BJP has peaked with months to go for the elections. So wide is Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s rift with senior leader Shanta Kumar and other rebels,who include two Cabinet ministers,half-a-dozen MLAs and suspended MP Rajan Sushant,that top leaders,including party president Nitin Gadkari,have had to intervene. Rebel MLA Khushi Ram Balnatah wrote to Nitin Gadkari seeking a leadership change for the sake of the party’s future,following which Gadkari summoned Dhumal and Shanta Kumar for a one-on-one. He made Shanta Kumar assure his backing to Dhumal as he leads the party to the polls.

And Virbhadra vs Anand

Congress watchers are speculating whether Virbhadra Singh is about to quit the Union cabinet,where he is Small Enterprises Minister,and return to Himachal Pradesh with an eye on the polls. The prospect bothers his detractors within the party,notably fellow Union Minister Anand Sharma. That camp has been working overtime to keep Virbhadra out of the race for the chief minister’s chair. Yet,Virbhadra himself is out to demonstrate how much he still matters,with a rally in Shimla on June 23,not only for his 77th birthday but also marking the completion of 50 years in politics for “Raja Sahib”. A key face in the event will be Virbhadra’s 23-year-old son,Vikaramaditya.

Gaiety to Town Hall

The Gaiety Theatre restored,it’s now the turn of Shimla’s Town Hall complex. The tourism department has tied up with the Asian Development Bank for a funding of Rs 19 crore. Plans are final and all that remains is a handover by the Mayor for the restoration. One of the familiar landmarks of the town,the Town Hall was built by the British in 1908 and currently houses Shimla Municipal Corporation office. Its roof,ceilings,walls are in various stages of decay. It is made of stone and timber and the plans involve conserving this while restoring its Gothic-style architecture. It will take two years to complete the task,says Arun Sharma,Shimla’s Deputy Commissioner.

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