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Unaware of rules, Shimla Police harassing cyclists instead of promoting cycling culture

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Interestingly, Shimla Police is also not aware of any such rule that prohibits cycling on restricted and sealed roads. When traffic control room was asked about it, the staff was unable to provide a clear answer and expressed doubts about it.

SHIMLA – Under the Comprehensive Mobility Plant (CMP) worth Rs 4701.42 crore, Shimla Municipal Corporation and HP Government had agreed on promoting cycling on Shimla roads, especially on the roads where motor vehicles are prohibited. Previous SP Shimla, Abhishek Dular is also a cycling enthusiast and often used a bicycle for commuting. The Deputy Mayor of Shimla, Tikender Panwar, can also be seen cycling from his home to office. Following their examples, some citizens, especially youth, are now using cycles for their daily commuting.

However, Shimla SP DW Negi seems to have disliked the idea and is creating his own set of rules for cycling. On the evening of November 9, a youth, who was riding his cycle on Chotta Shimla to Marina road, was stopped by a Shimla police officer. The youth was told that it’s a rule that no citizen can ride a cycle on restricted and sealed roads. When the youth told him that he has been using cycle from past one year on the same road to commute from his home in Shoghi to office in Kasumpti daily and no policemen ever stopped, informed or warned him regarding any such rule.

The officer didn’t like it when the youth asked for information regarding this rule, the infuriated officer ordered policemen to take the youth and his bicycle to police station. His bicycle was confiscated for a night and the youth was sent to Chotta Shimla Police station. Youth was not given any reason for confiscation; neither was he given any official receipt as proof of it.

All that the S.H.O Chotta Shimla told the youth was that he was ordered to confiscate the cycle for one night.
HW talked to the victim who recalled the whole incident, however, avoided talking about it on camera. While, the youth didn’t file any official complaint against it, the issue was raised by the ICE (Initiative for Cycling Enthusiast) community of Shimla and Tikender Panwar.

A member of the cycling community condemned such irresponsible behavior by Shimla Police and expressed his fear that such incidents will discourage citizen from using cycles.

Interestingly, Shimla Police is also not aware of any such rule that prohibits cycling on restricted and sealed roads. When traffic control room was asked about it, the staff was unable to provide a clear answer and expressed doubts about it.

When HW asked the DSP (traffic police) Amit Thakur to throw light on any such provision that prohibits cycling on sealed and restricted roads, he replied that there is no such rule. He also referred to “THE SHIMLA ROAD USERS AND PEDESTRIANS (PUBLIC SAFETY AND CONVENIENCE) ACT, 2007 for confirmation. The Act does not mention any prohibition regarding the use of cycles on such roads and considers only motor-vehicles.

Moreover, Shimla Police or Shimla MC or any other authority never released any notification regarding cycling rules in Shimla. So, how could police stop a citizen from cycling and confiscate bike without telling the owner his offense.

It’s a highly condemnable act to harass a citizen on the name of rules that actually do not exist.

Tikender Panwar reacted to this news and called it a ridiculous action on the part of the Shimla Police. He also wrote a letter to the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh regarding the unfortunate incident. In his letter, Tikender Panwar said,

This also goes against the basic spirit of this town where you too have been instrumental in guiding the citizens with the slogan of “PAIDAL NAHIN TO PEDAL SAHI” which means if you cannot walk then you should pedal in the town.

Referring to the CMP approved by the government,he added,

Shimla MC and the state government conjointly have passed the city comprehensive mobility plan (CMP) which focuses on non motorised mode of transport and cycle being the foremost one.

In May 2015, Himachal Pradesh Government and Shimla Municipal Corporation had conjointly approved the first phase of Comprehensive City Mobility Plant (CMP) in order to increase mobility to reach major areas in Shimla. The plan included setting up rope-ways, escalators, lifts and other non-motorized transportation mediums to reduce traffic and to cut environmental pollution. Promotion of cycling culture is a major part of this plan.

In September, Shimla MC had announced construction of cycle stands on identified sites such as between CTO and Sanjauli besides Indira Gandhi Sport Complex and Chotta Shimla. Shimla Deputy Mayor had held a meeting with various stakeholders, along with DSP (traffic) Amit Thakur to come out with means to promote cycling in Shimla.

In Septmber, DW Negi, SP Shimla Police had announced that policemen in Shimla were provided with top gear cycles (costing 1.5 lakh) for patrolling in the central area of the town where movement of automobile vehicles is forbidden. DW Negi had said,

The petrol police have to trek considerable distance to reach the crime spot in these locations but it can be reduced considerably by cycling. Cycling is environmental friendly and can penetrate into areas where vehicles cannot go and as such it would help the patrolling parties to work efficiently and effectively. Cycles have been purchased and we are buying helmets for the safety of policemen riding the bicycle. The trial is already underway and the pilot project, which would be launched in other areas if successful, would be launched in the next two days.

Earlier, in June, a Shimla-based group ‘Initiative for Cycle Enthusiasts (ICE) held a cycling rally to promote cycling and cleaner environment in Himachal Pradesh.

All developed nation have taken aggressive initiatives to promote zero-emission transportation such as electric cycles and cycling. The governments have formed set of rules specifically defined for cyclists. Unfortunately, the capital city of Himachal still has no clue about it.

In the above mentioned case, the youth was unable to figure out which rule he actually violated or whether he even violated any rule or not. The egoistic behavior of police officials and lack of proper knowledge regarding rules & regulation have resulted in the harassment of a citizen, who was, indeed, helping keep Shimla clean and cut traffic by choosing cycle over motor-vehicle.

It’s not the first time that Shimla Police was caught harassing common people. We had posted images from student protest at HP university and outside Vidhan Sabha in which policemen had brutalized protesters. Policemen were caught in CCTV installed in a Dhalli hotel where hotel workers were beaten over a disposable cup. In another instance, policemen thrashed tourists publicly despite their own fault. Cops were seen riding duty bikes without helmets. One of the cops had dragged out HRTC driver from moving bus at Tutu Chowk and risked lives of people because he had not stopped the bus for the cop as it was overloaded. Now,  we have ego-issues due to which police department is not only leaving a bad impression on public, but also damaging progressive plans of Shimla MC.

 

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 7 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 world around him in his DSLR lens.

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“Are IG, SP, DSP in jail to save a woodcutter?”: Unconvinced father of Gudiya asks CBI

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CBI Probe in Kotkhai case

If the police officials did not try to shield anyone, then they must have done it either for medals or under an extreme political pressure ahead of assembly elections.

Shimla: The findings of the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Gudiya case, which had sparked massive protests in Shimla, did not sound convincing to the parents of the victim and a section of the locals.

The father told media that though he has full faith in the CBI, he is not convinced that a 4-feet man empowered a 16-year-old alone and raped her in the forest.

In addition, the CBI did not explain where did the accused keep her for one and a half day. As per the CBI, the accused committed the crime on the evening of July 4, but her body was found on the morning of July 6, the father added.

They had launched an extensive search in the forests on July 5, however, did not come across the body of the victim, the father told media.

For the father, more bewildering is the fact that three high-rank officials are in jail with six others just to save a woodcutter.

It is a point that is creating confusion among the locals, who have followed the series of events in the case. The CBI never spoke of the motive of the arrested police officials.

If the CBI has conducted a fair probe, then what was the motive of the police officials behind framing innocent men and allegedly kill one of them in custody in order to extract a false confession, he asked.

If the police officials did not try to shield anyone, then they must have done it either for medals or under an extreme political pressure ahead of assembly elections which were just a couple of months away, the locals are speculating.  

However, the Congress party, which was in power when the incident took place, is convinced with the probe and have appreciated the agency for cracking the case.  The party had on April 25 released a media statement regarding the same. 

Further, the father, in his statements to the media, asked why the clothes of the victim were not damaged if the crime was committed in the forest by over-powering her. Her clothes, the father said, were placed by her body like it was done deliberately and carefully.  

He also said that the CBI did not inform them regarding the status of the case even after claiming to have solved the case.

The parents said they would knock at the doors of the court if the CBI fails to complete the missing parts of the entire episode and answer their questions.

At the same time, a section of the people believes that the CBI might have actually caught the actual accused. However, the gaps in the CBI theory are bothering most of the people.

The CBI, on the other hand, said the investigation would continue and, meanwhile, a charge-sheet would be filed against the accused within the stipulated period of 90 days.

However, at the same time, the agency had yesterday told the court that it is filing its last status report in the case.

The CBI needs to fill the gaps in its story to convince the parents and the locals.

Hopefully, with the filing of the charge-sheet, more facts would emerge to verify the CBI probe.

Because, in the absence of it, the people have already begun to term the arrested accused a scapegoat that the agency used to save itself and its Chief from embarrassment.

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Kotkhai Gudiya case solved, says CBI claiming it was not a gang rape

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Kotkhai gudiya case solved says cbi

Shimla: In yet another mind-boggling development in the Gudiya case, the Central Bureau of Investigation today, while submitting its status report in the Himachal Pradesh High Court, reportedly claimed that it has cracked the case.

The CBI told the court that it was the last status report in the case and that it would file a charge-sheet against the accused within 90 days.

The news has begun to appear in national media where it is being claimed that the agency has finally cracked the blind case of rape and murder.

The PTI reported that the CBI has changed the theory given by the local police and claimed that it was not a case of gangrape. As per CBI, the lone accused, who was identified as Anil Kumar, has been arrested on April 13 based on the DNA reports that matched with the sample taken from victim’s body. The accused was said to be a lumberjack.

The report further said the CBI had found that the accused had been hiding all this time and that he also has a criminal background.

The agency used new DNA percentage matches and lineage matches to crack the case. The agency further claimed that it was after getting multiple scientific pieces of evidence that the accused was identified and arrested.

The investigation was done quietly and away from public scrutiny to ensure culprits don’t escape. Accused was arrested on 13 April and produced before designated Court today. He has been remanded to judicial custody till 7 May,

Abhishek Dayal, CBI Chief Info Officer, told ANI.

However, the court was not satisfied with the status report and asked the agency to file an affidavit on the behalf of its Director.

The next hearing will be conducted on May 8. The court said it would decide whether the CBI Chief to be summoned or not. The CBI defended its Director saying he had been carefully monitoring all the status reports filed in the court.

The CBI counsel tried to convince the court that there was no need to direct the Director to be personally present in the court.

The people of Himachal are bewildered as nine police officials including then Inspector General Zahur H Zaidi, SP of Shimla, DW Negi, and DSP of Theog, Manoj Joshi, were put behind bars by the agency on August 29, 2017.

The CBI charge-sheet filed against the nine police officials alleged the accused of hatching a conspiracy, framing wrong people, and even hacking one of them to death in police custody.

The people believed that some influential and wealthy people influenced the police probe to shield the real culprits. There have been rioting like the situation in Kotkhai region and entire Himachal was echoing with protesting voices. However, now a big question that arises here is that why did local police take such a risk? How can a simple lumberjack influence police SIT and fool the CBI for 10 months?

The reactions of the victim’s parents and locals towards the CBI probe are still awaited. Moreover, in coming days, the agency may come out with a public statement to explain the entire episode and clear the doubts of the people regarding the investigation.

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Road in Mashobra Ward of SMC in tatters for last 10 years

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Road-in-Shimla-MC-Ward-21

Shimla: While the new Government of Himachal Pradesh claims that it has achieved all the targets it had set for the first 100 days, the ground reality doesn’t agree with it entirely.

As per the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, Rs. 100 crores were sanctioned for repair and maintenance of roads, however, even the urban Shimla did not witness these repairs.

Some residents of Mashobra – Lower Dhalli Ward (Number 21) of the Shimla Municipal Corporation wrote to Himachal Watcher regarding the pathetic condition of the road in their locality algonwith pictures of the Mashobra market.  

The road has not been repaired from last 10 years. The problem of water-logging pertains from past 5 years, but the civic body did not attend to it, 

said one of the residents.

Bhartiya Janata Party’s Shalinder Chauhan has been elected for the second time as councillor of the Ward. However, he made only promises to solve this problem, which were never fulfilled,

the resident further added.

Mashobra market

This road leads to famous tourist destinations like Talai, Carignano Nature Park along with government offices like the Regional Horticultural Research Station, Mashobra, and HP Panchayati Raj Training Institute.

Despite the frequent movement of government officials in this Ward, the road did not attract the attention of any single of them.

Several Ministers cross this road and, a few days back, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had organized a national level annual meeting near Talai, but the problem remains invisible to everyone except the locals,

a local youth told HW.

The pedestrians face daily trouble due to the large potholes, which turn into pools of water when it rains. Passing vehicles splash accumulated water on pedestrians. During sunny days, clouds of dust troubles the residents as well as shopkeepers and dhabs located in the market, the residents complained.   

The locals are forced to live in dust and mud for last 10 years, but the problems of the locals did not find a place in media, they further complained.

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