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Virbhadra Singh CBI Raid case: Everything you need to know

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Why did the CBI raid Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s private residence, Holly Lodge in Shimla, and 12 other places on September 26?

SHIMLA- The CBI is investigating allegations that Virbhadra Singh, as union Minister for Steel and, subsequently, Minister for MSME in the UPA 2 government between 2009 and 2012, acquired an illegal income and assets worth Rs 6.1 crore. He allegedly invested the unexplained income in single-premium LIC polices through one Anand Chauhan, who opened an account in Punjab National Bank’s Shimla branch and deposited nearly Rs 5 crore in cash, before routing the money into the LIC policies. Chauhan was also the manager of Singh’s Shrikhand apple orchard in Shimla district during the same period. The CBI registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) against Singh, his wife Pratibha Singh, their son Vikramaditya Singh, daughter Aparajita Kumari, and LIC agent Chauhan in June 2015. On September 23, the CBI converted the PE into a regular case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and the raids followed.

What other allegations does the Chief Minister face?

In 2012, Virbhadra Singh filed revised Income-Tax Returns for the years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, which showed massive increases in his incomes from the apple orchard. The income of Rs 7.35 lakh for 2009-10 rose to Rs 2.21 crore; for 2010-11, Rs 15 lakh increased to Rs 2.80 crore; and for 2011-12, the income of Rs 25 lakh increased to Rs 1.55 crore. Following complaints, the Income-Tax Department sent a notice to the CM, asking him to explain the increases. Singh currently faces I-T investigations and a case in the Income-Tax Tribunal, a money-laundering investigation by the Enforcement Directorate, and a case in the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

How, when did the allegations surface?

During the Assembly elections of 2012, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was then Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, confronted Singh with the alleged facts of the cases. He released details of Singh’s revised I-T returns, which showed the huge increases in his orchard incomes, and of the temporary PNB account opened by Anand Chauhan to make investments on behalf of Singh and his family. Jaitley also accused Singh of forgery and money laundering, and subsequently wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeking a probe. Singh filed a defamation suit against Jaitley, but withdrew it later.

In 2013, advocate and activist Prashant Bhushan filed a public interest lawsuit in Delhi High Court on behalf of the NGO Common Cause, alleging that the CBI had not probed the charges of corruption against Singh. This PIL is pending in the court. The next hearing is on October 14, when CBI is supposed to inform the court whether a case for lodging an FIR is made out.

Did the CM anticipate the CBI’s action?

At a meeting of the state cabinet two days before the raids, Transport Minister G S Bali alerted Singh about CBI investigators closing in on him. The Chief Minister asked all 11 ministers to sign a statement backing him. In their joint statement, the ministers accused the Centre of bringing false charges against Singh, and of misusing the CBI. Investigators showed up on the day Minakshi Kumari, the youngest of the Chief Minister’s four daughters from his first wife, was getting married. It was a quiet family affair at a local temple, about which many from even the Chief Minister’s party were unaware. The CM and his family were at home when the CBI arrived. On Monday, Virbhadra Singh’s lawyers sought a copy of the CBI FIR, but withdrew the application on Wednesday. Later on Wednesday, however, the CM moved the Himachal Pradesh High Court against the CBI.

How have the Chief Minister and his party reacted to the CBI raids?

Virbhadra Singh has not issued any detailed public statement so far. On September 27, he put out two tweets, saying, “I was on the way to Temple for my daughters marriage ceremony when I encountered with the CBI Team outside my house at Shimla”, and “I proceeded to the wedding ceremony, opened my house doors to the CBI & asked them to check what they want, as I have nothing to hide”. The Congress Legislature Party — 36 MLAs in a House of 68 — has thrown its weight behind him; his rival in the party, Anand Sharma, too has backed the CM. On Thursday, Congress MLAs led by veteran leader Vidya Stokes are scheduled to meet President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi to submit a three-page memorandum apprising him of the CBI raids. The Congress memorandum is likely to accuse the Centre of unfairly targeting Virbhadra Singh while ignoring the allegations of corruption and impropriety against BJP Chief Ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh.

How will the CBI raids impact the CM politically?

There is currently no challenge to his leadership. Singh has been a mass leader — one who has fought his way to the Chief Minister’s job in the face of opposition from the Congress leadership in 1993, 2003 and 2012. In 2012, it was the Congress’s compulsion to give him charge, even though he had had to resign from the union ministry only a few months earlier. The charges against him this time are, however, serious. What the CBI tells Delhi High Court in its status report will be crucial.

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Himachal Lost 408 Human Lives, 207 Animals in Winter Season Alongwith Extensive Horticultural, Agricultural Damages

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winter season loss in himachal pradesh 2019

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh suffered major loss and damage in the winter season due to heavy snowfall, avalanches, landslides, hailstorms, and heavy rains. Between January 1 to March 31, 2019. The state lost as many as 408 human lives and 207 animal lives. Similarly, 1346 houses, 9516 water supply schemes were damaged, 30,921 electricity lines were disrupted, 10,260 LT electrical poles were damaged. Besides, 13,733-kilometre roads length and 377-hectare horticulture crop area was affected during the period.

Chief Secretary B.K. Agarwal, who chaired a meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) on Friday, released this information. The Team was on the three-day visit to the State to assess the damages and losses occurred during winter season-2019 in the State.

Based on this assessment, the State has submitted a memorandum of loss and damages to the government of India amounting to Rs. 374.21 crore.

The State suffered damage to the horticulture and agriculture sector to the tune of 0.54 crore, animal husbandry Rs. 0.19 crore, fishery 0.015 crores, housing Rs. 10.46 crore, community assets Rs. 2.50 crore, forest Rs. 6.78 crore, Public works department Rs. 242.27 crore, IPH Rs. 43.97 crore and Power Rs. 51.17 crore. Besides Rs. 16.32 crore have been distributed as ex-gratia for human lives lost during the calamities in the winter season, informed Director-cum-Special Secretary, HP Disaster Management Authority D.C Rana.

The IMCT team headed by Joint Secretary, KB Singh from Freedom Fighters Rehabilitation department assessed the damages at various places in Shimla, Kinnaur, Chamba, Kullu and Mandi districts.

The other members if the IMCT were Director (Horticulture) Dr. M.N. Singh, Director (Expenditure) S.C. Meena, Deputy Director (Ministry of Rural Development), Deputy Director from Rural Development SS Modi, Director, Central Water Commission OP Gupta, Deputy Director, Power OP Suman, Regional Officer, Road Transport and Highways Vipnesh Sharma.

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Shimla-Rash Private Bus Driver Allegedly Rams Bus Loaded With Passengers Into a Parked Tipper

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Private Bus Accident in Shimla due to rash driving

Shimla-Private bus operators of Shimla are already infamous for rash driving and racing with each other, competing over timings. Several accidents and incidents of rash driving have been reported in the past as well. However, the laxity of the district administration and the police continue to encourage them to carry on with their death races.  

In yet another such incident, driver of a private bus ‘Rajendra’ rammed the bus loaded with passengers into a tipper parked on the roadside near BCS in Shimla City on Saturday evening. Fortunately, except a couple of passengers who received minor injuries, no one was hurt. The collision crushed the front part of the tipper. No one was present inside the tipper when the incident took place.

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While the driver cited mechanical fault ( broken axle) as a reason for the accident, the passengers narrated a different story. The passengers could be seen telling the police that the driver was driving very rashly right from the Old ISBT. Several passengers asked the driver repeatedly to not drive rashly. The driver and the conductor, the passengers said, did not listen at all. Rather, they told passengers that it’s not a big deal and nothing would happen.

The passengers also complained that the driver and conductor were continuously passing obscene remarks to drivers of other vehicles including tourist vehicles. They also alleged the driver appeared to be under the influence of some intoxicating substance.

On the other hand, instead of apologizing to the passengers, the driver was seen arguing with them in the presence of the police. While the driver of the bus and tipper arrived at a mutual compromise, the injured passengers were not taken for medical examination, and simply sent to fetch medicines from nearby chemist.

The passenger also complained that the police took their statements, which were not recorded, lightly.

The accident has again exposed how laxity on the part of the district administration and the traffic police is turning private bus operators into a mafia. This mafia doesn’t care for traffic rules or the lives of the passengers.

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Bilaspur – Girl Kidnapped, Molested, Then Thrown Out of Vehicle, Two Suspects Nabbed

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Bilaspur Kidnapping Case

Bilaspur-Safety of females in Himachal Pradesh is again in question as a case of attempted kidnapping and molestation was reported from Bilaspur district on past Wednesday.

As per the police, a girl, who is a student, got off a Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus near College Chowk in Roura Sector at approximately 9 PM on Wednesday. She was walking towards her home in Diara Sector when two men forcibly dragged her inside a white car taking advantage of darkness as power supply was disrupted due to stormy conditions.  The girl tried to escape but was overcome by the men.

When they tried to molest her, the girl began to shout loudly. The kidnappers then threw her out of the vehicle and sped away. The girl informed her parents about the incident, who then reached the police station and filed a complaint.

The Superintendent of Police, Bilaspur, Ashok Verma, confirmed the report. He informed that a case has been filed for kidnapping and molestation. Based on the statement of the girl and CCTV footage, two suspects were arrested on the following day. On Friday, these suspects were produced in the court. The court has sent them to judicial custody till July 17.

Considering the sensitivity of the case, the SP said he would himself monitor the investigation.

Both of the arrested suspects were said to be sanitation workers employed with the town’s Municipal Council. After receiving permission from the court, an identification parade would be conducted.  No further details of suspects were released.

   

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