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Now, that’s more like Shimla Police, our police



shimla traffic vehicle

How would you expect a low rank police officer to treat a teenage boy, who was caught while he was on the run from his home following a family quarrel, on a bike without a license or any other document except for an expired insurance?

On Tuesday this week (8 June, 2014), at about 10 pm, a boy was detained by a cop on duty at Tutikandi bypass crossing.

A cop saw this young boy riding without a helmet and, hence, asked him to pull over. When the cop came closer, he observed the boy was wearing a T-shirt over a track suit lower, ‘chappals,’ and also noticed missing rear number plate. Most likely, he took him as a local boy riding near his home.

The cop asked him why he wasn’t wearing a helmet and asked for his license, which the boy did not have. Neither did he have Vehicle RC. All he had an expired insurance. The number on the front plate bore HR (Haryana) state registration, which the insurance papers confirmed. The cop did take it seriously and pressurized the boy to tell the truth why he doesn’t have any document. When the cop inquired whether it was a stolen vehicle, the boy had to tell him that he just ran away from his home in Ambala following a fight with a family member.

The cop extracted the phone number of his father, and confirmed the statement. The boy had really come this far, to Shimla, in bathroom chappals and pajama. His parents were on their way to Shimla. The cop wasn’t happy at all about this unnecessary nuisance this boy had now become as he had to call the police station, detain the boy, impound the bike, call the police van to take him to the station.

It was not so crowded at that time as the incident took place at late night. Of course, the cop was all scolding the boy for creating trouble for his parents just over a family fight.

The people waiting for buses gathered around the boy. The cop expressed a wonder over the fact that the boy made this far from Ambala, and no one stopped him for not wearing a helmet or the missing number plate. The case could have been solved earlier, and the boy wouldn’t have reached this far. The boy had started at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon and no cop, not even one, nor in Punjab or in Himachal did notice him until he was about to enter into the Shimla city.

However, here, in Shimla, this cop, who was going for his dinner at 10 o’clock night, noticed it and did exactly what his duty asked for. That simple, dutiful act lead to such a crucial finding – a 17-year-old boy on the run on a common mileage bike with just Rs. 60 in his pocket. Imagine how the parents, who were already wandering in search of their only boy, received a call from Himachal Police telling them that their son is safe and is in police custody. Well, now, all that was left to solve in the case was the wait for his parents to come to the station to receive him.

But, the most interesting part was the way the boy was treated by Himachal police. The cop who checked him first was a bit rude, but was kind enough to offer him a plate of ‘pakora’ and some water while the Officer In-Charge and PCR van were on their way to the spot to pick him up.

Finally, when the IO, Ram Singh, approached the scene, everyone at the stoppage was almost sure that the boy is going have his butt kicked. The boy had a branded smartphone, surely over 10K. He was the youngest and only son besides two elder sisters. His father was a farmer. The economical background was kind of OK.

He has just appeared in 10+2 examinations and has landed here in Shimla Police custody just because of single impulse of anger. He didn’t care about the mental trouble he had put his parents into.

Making his way through a little crow encircling the boy, the first word that came out of the mouth of this cop were – “Kya Ho Gaya Beta?”

best of himachal police

Not just words, but also the concern that he showed towards the boy was commendable. Second praiseworthy act this officer did is directed the crowd – which was staring at the boy like police had caught a criminal and had, obviously, added to anxiety it caused to the boy – and said, “Please, Aap Log Apna-2 Kaam Kiziye.” Next, he put his hands around the boy and walked away from the crowd. He talked to the boy in a low tone that it wasn’t audible to even person standing next to them.

It was a very odd, really uncomfortable situation for a teenager boy to get caught by police outside his home state. A councilor would tell you hundreds of facts of such behavior that adolescents often display under influence of strong hormonal and psychological changes they go through during such crisis situations in life.
He did not put the boy into police van right away, he did not start interrogating in scolding manner, he did not burdened him with guilt and severity of his action. The conversation with the boy wasn’t audible, but it was good enough to relieve the boy with tears flowing down his cheeks.

Then, the officer inquired if he had eaten something. The snack stall was closed, so the officer said, “Koi Baat Nai, Station main sath main kha lenge, maine bhi ni khaya.”

He appeared to be more than just a cop; a man in authority, but with a strong consideration to the psychological aspect of one’s life.

That wasn’t like the typical, stereotype Indian police behavior that we often hear about in most of the parts of our nation. From the point-of-view of a common man standing at a bus stoppage at this hour of night, this scene revived the trust in the police and humanity.

Some of it could attributed to the Shimla’s previous SP, Abhishek Dullar, for the sanitizing and encouraging them to adopt more friendly behavior while dealing with public or such complex situations.

It was towards the end of this scene when an HW member (present at the scene) took his camera out and sorted permission to click a couple of random shot posted above. Earlier, it would have influenced the order of natural reaction from the police. Then, they left for the station with the boy.

The dutiful act of the first cop helped not only the boy’s parents, but also the boy himself. The boy could have landed in bigger trouble. Himachal Police is one of the friendliest public servants in the country, and with demonstration of such alertness, understanding, compassionate behavior, we must say, Himachal is fortunate enough to have such cops to take care of us.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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“This is a ladies seat”



Ladies seats in Himachal's buses

Shimla: Until now, I didn’t know the difference between a lady and a middle-aged woman when a ‘LADY’ on a local bus helped me distinguish it. While travelling in an overloaded local bus today, a voice from somewhere in the middle of the bus cracked into my ears saying “ye ladies seat hai.”

The irony of the situation was that the person who was trying to capture the so-called ladies seat was herself a lady, probably in her twenties. But, to my conscious, I came to know that women in their twenties are not considered ladies by other middle-aged ladies’. And, with no guilt, the ‘LADY’ took a seat proudly while the little ‘GIRL’ uttered softly but furiously “aap hi beth jao.”

The percentage of reserved seats for ladies in a local bus in Shimla is almost 50%. But this does not imply that women who are well built and enjoy a good health condition also cannot manage to stand for a few kms.

Reservation in India as a whole had already been criticized for a long time now.
But asking for a reservation for women and also granting it is not making women stronger or acceptable but weaker and vulnerable.

Women aren’t any minority in India who needs a reservation to prove themselves. And all women who think they need it are not strong enough to empower themselves.

Author: Tabbu Verma

Himachal Watcher may not necessarily share the same opinion as expressed by the author.

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Weeklong Harassment by Shimla’s Electricity and Water Departments



harrasement by hp govt departments
    If you have a property (house) in Shimla but you don’t stay here, you could end up paying a price for it. Price not only in monetary terms but in terms of undue stress and pain.

    I had been living in Rajasthan for a few months now, leaving home in Shimla only to return for the surprise of my life.

    In today’s technologically advanced system, I could be considered liable for a moment, but what transpired because of my negligence (if you may) is something I don’t want anyone else to go through. This is why I’m sharing my bitter experience with the electricity board and water department in Shimla.

    Living away from hometown, I should have paid water and electricity bills for my home in Shimla. I should have; but, due to negligence or over involvement in personal chores, I was unable to pay the bills online.

    All the while, I had it in the back of the mind but I thought I will pay the bills (with whatever penalties) in person the next time I am in Shimla.

    I thought it would be easy. Instead, I was for a week of mental trauma.

    When I came back to Shimla, a few days back, there was no electricity and water supply to my home.

    Worried not bewildered, I lived with it for the night and planned a visit the concerned departments the next morning, to clear the pending bills and have the water and electricity supplies restored.

    To my surprise, it wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be.

    When I went to pay the electricity bill at Lakkar Bazaar ( the area where my house is), I was asked to go to the main office of the electricity board in Sanjauli. I went to Sanjauli, where I was told that electricity connection to my house had been cut, and I needed to apply for a new connection.

    I was told a fresh file, for a new connection, had to be made.Now I was certainly bewildered.

    From then onward, I was sent from one electricity office to another for different papers. To the DC office for affidavits– all the procedures had to be done from scratch.

    It took almost a week (six dark days precisely)to complete the entire procedure afresh. All this while I didn’t find one person in the electricity board who cared for the mental trauma I was going through or how my family would be living without electricity.

    Finally, after innumerable visits to various offices of the electricity board, I took the file to the JE office in Snowdown hospital.

    Here, I was meted with a shock. The courteous JE informed that my family didn’t have to stay without electricity for so many days, neither did I have to go through all the pain. JE said ‘power supply could have been restored to my home in matter of few hours after the bill payment and the process for new application could have been followed thereafter.’

    He then sent a person from his office along with me to the concerned office in Lakkar Bazaar. Finally, we saw a bright night at my place.

    JE was the only person in the entire electricity board who talked nicely, gave me correct guidance and helped solve my problem.

    My worries were not just limited to the electricity board. I was all this while simultaneously running pillar to post to pay my water bill and have the water supply restored.

    The issue was an elaborate water bill, which was beyond anyone’s understanding. For us, we should have only been charged the meter rent because we had not used water for months.

    This is when I learned about plugging connection. When you are not at home and would not be using water for months, the water department requires you to plug the connection.

    This ensures you’ve only billed the meter rent and not for the usage (though, how do you end up using water when you’re not home stays an arguable story for me).

    During the weeklong process, I was not only without electricity at home, there was no water too.

    Considering myself a defaulter, I silently kept doing what the office bearers in the department were asking me to do.I was ready to follow the procedure but it was such a pain to see that no officer was considerate enough to help resolve the issue soon. Instead, I was made to run from one office to another with documents that were not even required.

    It took me eight long days to pay the pending bills, apply to have the water meter plugged, and to have water supply restored to my house.

    This was it, I couldn’t have taken anymore but the water department wasn’t done with its lackluster attitude.
    After a month of submitting the application to get the water meter plugged, I again received an inflated bill. I called the water billing office for clarity.

    After making an infinite number of calls, I was finally informed that the water meter of my home was still not plugged.

    Alas! What had I done wrong to deserve this?

    Immediately, I called up Mr. Laxmi Thakur (the person) responsible for plugging the water meter. He said ‘Madam, I plugged your meter the same day you asked me to’.

    The linesman was a helpful fellow.He took it upon himself and went to the billing office to check why I was still getting huge bills despite the meter being plugged.

    Post inquiry, he informed me that my file had reached the water department from Mayor’s office the same day I submitted it but people in the billing office didn’t update the same on their computer systems.
    With Mr Thakur’s efforts, my bill was recreated with the correct amount, which I then paid off instantly.

    Awareness tips

    •If electricity connection to your house is disconnected for non-payment of a bill, go directly to the JE of your area. The JE will escalate the matter and power supply will be restored. Now, follow the formalities, as guided, and get a new connection

    •If you have property in Shimla but you’re out and not using IPH water supply, get your meter plugged to avoid rentals above the meter rent

    By Rajni, Shimla

    Photo: Sk-bent ex

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Sensitivity where art thou, Shimla cries for you




Urbanization of shimla

Times are changing alright; we are progressing with age and time has come when pace of Shimla is matching the pace of most developed cities in India. Time was when modesty, selflessness and compassion flowed through the heart of residents of the Queen of Hill. With development and large scale urbanization, the mindset of the town is changing – and the change is demeaning the basic culture and charm of the city.

Development and urbanization are slow poison to say. Initially they taste refreshing – refreshing to the extent that humans are lured so magnetically to them. Culminating effect is fatal. Shimla is sipping on this slow poison and is headed for self destruction.

Who is to blame? Finger pointing comes naturally to Indians, so when I ask this, all of us will have our fingers pointed at the administration.

Constitutionally this is correct – and why not, the administration and public representatives we have voted to power are responsible for it all. If there is uncontrolled urbanization – government policies should have been framed to avoid it. If there is unmanageable garbage on roads, pollution in the air and contaminated water in the taps – administration should have strict measures in place. But, considerable citizens are we the main contributors to this?

I once read “your character is what you are when you are alone”, and it has stayed with me ever since. I bring this up to validate my point. We citizens are primarily responsible for the rumpus we confront in the town of late.

Himachalis, the residents of the abode of snow, are by virtue sensitive to change, sensitive to our culture and sensitive to the surroundings. Thus, for Shimlaites this sense of sensitivity comes by default.

Change is the only constant. Change we must and so we are steadily. We are more literate, more monetarily concerned and at near prime of a standard of living. Culturally we are still rooted – probably our previous generation has instilled this sense in us. Concern looms on our sensitivity to the surroundings.

We are literate, but our education has defaulted somewhere. We are concerned but our sensitivity is lost somewhere. We blame but our self-conscience has gone astray.

Back in school (this would be some 20 years back) moral science and civics was taught to me. Back then I never realized how my consciousness towards little civic duties and efforts towards betterment of my surrounding would make a difference. Today I realize it, but my neighbour makes me believe, I am in the wrong part of the world with an unwanted conscience.

How justified is it then to be the run off the mill? Is what your neighbour doing the correct way to do things, I often ask this to myself. I don’t get an answer – an answer is difficult to find because ‘this is India and nothing is going to change here ever.’ This cliché must have reached your ears a number of times. I am growing old listening to it.

Certainly this is not how it should be, at least that sensitivity instilled in me by being part of the hill state, tells me so. Calling out to all who follow – Change we must!

Change to ask questions, why my rights are being murdered by incapable, narrow sighted governance. Change to come to terms with my sensitivity to question that neighbour who stays and feeds on my city’s resources but fails to do his bit in return. Change to question my own acts when I’m in public or when I am walking down the road by myself.

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