Connect with us

HW Community

Yug Murder Case: Possible torture to death, drowned alive, suggests initial investigation, protest erupts in Shimla

Published

on

SHIMLA- Horrific case of abduction and cold blooded murder of 4-years-old Yug Gupta in Shimla has sent a wave of shock across Himachal Pradesh – one of the most peaceful places in India. The family including two sisters aged 8 and 10 is broke.

yug-murder-protest

Protest has erupted in the city as shopkeepers kept shops closed on Tuesday and marched to meet Virbhadra Singh and HP HC Chief Justice.

Preliminary Investigation Suggest Torture to Death

yug-gupta-shimla-murder

Himachal isn’t crime free; murders, robberies and sexual assaults do happen here, but such insanity was rarely heard before. As more details about the murder case are coming into light, the investigation is suggesting probable torture of the kid like beating, starving, and forcibly making him drink liquor before eventually killing him on June 21.

New Revelations

Shimla Water Tank

MC water tank in Bharari from which remains were recovered: Photo: Amar Ujala

Although, it is not confirmed, but initial investigation suggest that the boy might have been thrown alive into the Municipal Corporation’s Kelestine water tank near Bharari in Shimla.

Read More: Skeleton of missing Shimla kid recovered after 2 years from MC water tank near Bharari

The mobile locations of the arrested men showed that Yug was hidden in a flat near Ramchandra Chowk at Navbahar. Chander had rented this flat (number HIG 22).

Chander Sharma flat Shimla

Flat near Navbahar, Shimla where Yug was kept after kidnapping Photo: Amar Ujala

All Suspects Locals Including a Neighbor

All men, Tejinder Singh, Virkrant Bakshi, and Chander Sharma are locals, residents of Shimla. Chander Sharma is neighbor of Vinod Gupta, father of deceased Yug.

Four Ransom Letters

On June 27, 2014, after 14 days of abduction, the family received first ransom later demanding delivery of Rs. 3.60 crores in Ambala through hands of Vinod’s servant Hari. The letter was inserted into the Shop that Vinod owns in Ram Bazaar. The family immediately sent the servant to Ambala, but no one appeared to collect the ransom. In second letter, Rs. 4 crores were demanded, but again it was not collected by the kidnappers. In third letter, the amount of ransom was raised to 10 crores, and back to Rs. 4 crore in the fourth letter.

Master Mind

According to reports, after kidnapping Yug, Chander, who was studying law, came back to Ram Bazaar and connected to family members as sympathizer. He dedicatedly remained present with family and even police teams during search operations claiming to be a member of International Human Rights Commission. The family begun to trust him and shared all information regarding the plans for search of Yug.

Doubts on Chander surfaced in the minds of family members after he started showing excess interest in matters pertaining to wealth and assets of the family. He used to inquire regarding financial status of the family and relatives.

Later, the family brought this interest of Chander in their financial matters to the notice of CID. The lie detector test of Vinod’s servant had also hinted that Chander could have abducted Yug for ransom. Thereafter, CID increased surveillance and arrested Tejinder and Vikrant in June, but easily secured bail from court.

When CID asked them to take lie detector test, both avoided it stating health issues, which almost confirmed agency’s suspicion. Finally, on Sunday, CID arrested Vikrant from Chandigarh based on strong evidences and made him confess the crime and recovered details of location of the body of the boy. Following this information, CID on Monday exhumed body remains from the said Kelston water tank. Now, all three men have been detained.

CID also used handwriting samples of the suspects that were found identical to ransom letters. Other materials are being recovered from their laptops and cellphones.

Public Blame Shimla Police for Not Taking Interest

Another noticeable aspect is that the family had already given names of Tejinder and Vikrant to police as suspects and both of them also had criminal record against them. Both were found involved in a theft case in Shimla. However, Shimla Police couldn’t materialize such a strong lead at all. Rather, it was carrying one of the suspects with it almost all the time during investigation. Therefore, the case was transferred to the CID.

People Demand Death Penalty, Social Boycott of Families

Shimla Murder Case

Protest march by Shopkeepers of Shimla in front of HP High Court

Enraged hearing heinousness of culprits, people are demanding death penalty for them and made call for social boycott of their families. Protesters also asked lawyer community to boycott culprits, and to not take their case as defense lawyer.

Cleaning of MC Water Tanks in Papers only?

sanjay-chauhan-pankaj-rai-Commissioner-mc-shimla

Shimla MC officials including Mayor and Commissioner didn’t respond to media calls.Image:Tribune/File Photo

The High Court of Himachal Pradesh is agitated and questioning Shimla MC how it could not spot the skeleton of the boy if it really cleaned the 12 lakh litre capacity tank twice this year, in January and June. Court has questioned affidavits filed by SMC claiming cleaning and supply of drinkable water. It noticeable that this time judges colony located in the posh Kelston area were also receiving water supply from the same tank along with other VIP residences, Police Line Bharari, Bharari Bazaar, Tara Badi, Lower Bharari, and some areas of Kuftadhar.

People and some politicians have opened attack on the MC officials and has demanded action against them as well.

Taking a serious note of the issue of recovery of the skeleton from a water tank, the High Court on Tuesday sought response from the state government and directed the Investigation Officer to file detailed affidavit in this regard. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan passed this order during the hearing of a PIL on the issue of contaminated water supply in Shimla city.  Next hearing in the case is scheduled to be held on September 27.

No Locks on MC Water Tanks, No Provision for Security

No-Locks-on-MC-Water-Tanks,-No-Provision-for-Security

The case clearly tells the tale of SMC’s ignorance towards security of the water tanks. The suspects were able to open it and dump the body as there was no lock on it. It implies that anyone could contaminate the water in these tanks with anything at anytime, risking lives of public.

Shimla MC’s Clarification

After news of recovery of skeleton from SMC water tank broke out, the media tried to connect to corporation officials. However, the Commissioner Pankaj Rai, Mayor Sanjay Chauhan, Engineer etc. did not respond to phone calls. But SMC’s initial clarification said that a skeleton was found earlier during cleaning but it was thrown away as workers took it to be remains of a monkey. As stark contrast to this statement, according to CID, team recovered the remains from the tank and, not from outside the tank.

SMC engineers claimed that they had cleaned not only the Keleston tank in January and June 2016, but also 23 other tanks after the jaundice outbreak.

The tanks were emptied, then were washed by chlorinated water,

the staff claimed.

It is not clear how the skeleton was recovered, but we have sought report from the municipal engineer

, said Chauhan.

Yug Candle March Shimla

Candle march on the Ridge Shimla

The suspects are in custody and have been sent on police remand of five days. More clarity on the details isexpected as investigation continues. CID, based on the scientific evidences they have collected, claims to have a strong case against the suspects and it’s impossible for them to escape the charges. The case has not only shocked people of Himachal, but also revealed lies and eyewash by administration even in matters as sensitive as quality of drinking water.

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.

HW Community

Himachal Pradesh: A Report on ‘Plight of Migrant Workers’ during the Lockdown & Need for Protection of their Rights

Published

on

Himachal pradesh - a report on migrant labourers during lockdown

Shimla-Poor people like migrant labourers and workers are nothing more than insects for the governments in India. The attitude of the government and its treatment of the poor workers, who had migrated to other states in search of livelihood, during the lockdown is a very clear evidence of it. What is more pathetic is the fact that that their plight remained invisible to the remaining public as mainstreamed media was being paid more by their political masters for diverting public attention from real issues to rubbish, spicy news. Our society is rotten to such an extent that public also preferred the rubbish served by the media over the bitter truth. Except for a small section of people including social activists, volunteers and non-profit-organizations actually worked to provide some relief like ration to the poor. Spare some time to go through a report on the plight of the migrant workers prepared by the Himachal Pradesh Workers Solidarity (HPWS) – a voluntary solidarity platform.

The first day of Lok Sabha’s monsoon session earlier this week saw MPs raising questions about the condition of Migrant Workers during the lockdown. The response of the Labour Minister that no data on migrant deaths for the period was available has drawn much flak. Additionally, no data on return of migrant workers was available for many states including Himachal Pradesh.

The issue of invisibilisation of migrant workers in a state like Himachal Pradesh has now been raised in a report, highlighting the impacts of the ongoing crisis on this community which contributes significantly to the state economy. Himachal Pradesh Workers Solidarity (HPWS) – a voluntary solidarity platform formed in April 2020, in its report, describes the havoc that a sudden, un- facilitated and unplanned national lockdown announced in response to the COVID19 pandemic six months ago had on the interstate migrant workers stranded in Himachal. HPWS ran a helpline during the period, provided assistance in accessing ration and other relief, travel to home states, through administrative coordination, registrations, and information dissemination etc.

Himachal, in the context of migration, is different from neighbouring Uttarakhand, where the rate of migration out of state is higher, whereas in Himachal the rate of in-migration is slightly higher than out-migration.

Gagandeep, a journalist based in Karsog and part of HPWS, elaborates,

“Post the decade of 1980 -90, expansion of industrial activities in the Shivalik hill region, multi-level infrastructure and development projects, growing local interests in horticulture, and cash crop farming alongside tourism-dependent economy made Himachal an emerging centre for in-migration.”

Today, workers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Nepal, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Kashmir constitute a large chunk of the migrant population in Himachal. Most of them are from Scheduled Caste, OBC, STs and minority communities. Difficult work areas and geography, insecure and unsafe living conditions, along with payment and other labour law violations, makes the situation even more difficult for them in mountain state like Himachal.

While the 2011 Census suggests that Himachal had approximately 3.10 lakhs migrant workers, this figure seems to be severely under-estimated due to lack of registration (under the Inter-State Workmen Act 1979), non-maintenance of data by State Labour Department and non-publication of all statistics of Census. The lack of data further worsened the pandemic crisis and impacted relief facilitation.

In response to the issues, the focus of the State was limited to distributing ration but ration alone was not enough for survival and sustenance. Ritika Thakur, another member of HPWS elaborates,

“Having some cash in hand was an urgent need to access gas cylinders, milk, medicines and other essential things like phone recharge, so that workers can at least call for support. Most of the people who contacted HPWS”, she adds, “had not been paid their wages and their savings had died out in payment of room rents and ration as loans and debts kept on piling up.”

Many migrant labourers complained about the interrogatory, apathetic and discriminatory attitude of the officials when they were called for ration support. Seeing no transport facility forthcoming, many workers were forced to walk back home on foot. When caught at borders they were put into quarantine centres forced to return or were left with no choice but to escape on foot.

“The online registration mechanism was completely inaccessible for workers and for weeks there was no response to registrations”,

according to Sukhdev Vishwapremi, a social activist and member of HPWS.

The first ‘shramik train’ ran as late as May 22, 2020.

“The government, meanwhile, allowed private bus operators to run on exorbitant prices,”

he adds.

Many workers were pushed to take loans or sell property/artefacts to be able to return home through these buses while 5000 HRTC buses remained standing in bus stands.

“The fact that the Central government shifted the burden of facilitating transport on the states without any significant co-ordination and clarity made matters worse, aided by lack of coordination and communication between nodal officers, both between Himachal and other states and within Himachal”,

Vishwapremi emphasized further.

According to the information shared by an officer from Himachal Pradesh Government (SDMA), 94,819 migrants had gone out from Himachal to various states of the country by June 23, 2020. As per the information received from SDMA under RTI, 14 shramik trains ferried around 13,183 people out of the state.

Himshi Singh from HPWS reminds, “more than 80% of the migrants took the road on their own expense in which the government merely provided e-passes for private transportation, and the number of people who walked on foot is not yet known.”

Adding further she remarks,

“It’s tragic that in the midst of this crisis, FIRs were registered against reporters who did stories on migrant worker’s condition and on the other hand no action was taken against fake news or media who communalised the issue leading to violence on minority communities like the migrant workers from Kashmir”.

The report highlights how Himachal was one of the 12 states who made major dilutions in labour laws in favour of companies and ‘ease of doing business’.

Almost five months have passed living with this epidemic and even as the success and failure of the lockdown are debated- the economy is falling in doldrums and our governments seem inconsistent and directionless. As per the estimate by ILO, 400 million informal workers in India will fall to critical levels of poverty than ever before- a situation that demands urgent cognizance, state accountability and a responsible approach.

In this regard, HPWS in this report has made the following recommendations for the State:

  1. Release in the public domain all the information about relief/support provided to migrant workers
  2. A joint task force be set to bring out a comprehensive report on the conditions and needs of migrant labourers in the state within 6 months
  3. Provide universal Access to Ration, Economic and other Relief Facilities
  4. Housing facilities for Migrant workers who have been living in Himachal and hostel facilities for seasonal labour
  5. Housing facilities for Migrant workers who have been living in Himachal and hostel facilities for  seasonal labour
  6. Compliance of SC/HC orders-setting up helpdesk/grievance redressal centres at Panchayat, Block, Tehsil  and District levels and conducting employment and skill-based survey of the migrant workers who have returned from other states
  7. Dilution in labour laws be withdrawn and all changes scrapped and strengthening the time-bound  ‘Grievance Redressal’ system and Labour Courts Mandate the registration of all migrant labourers working in the state under ISWMA 1979

HPWS will be submitting the report to various state and central agencies for further advocacy and hopes that the HP Government will take adequate measures to protect the interests of the migrant worker communities in the state.

Read Complete Report

Feature Photo: Sumit Mahar, Volunteer HPWS

Continue Reading

HW Community

Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases in Himachal, Speculation of Complete Lockdown Gains Momentum

Published

on

Himachal Pradesh Lockdown from August 1st speculations

Shimla-The number of COVID-19 cases is rising at an alarming rate in Himachal Pradesh as for the past five consecutive days, the state had been reporting nearly 100 cases per day. With Monday’s 95 new cases, the tally  for the state jumped to 2270. The number of active cases has crossed the 1000 mark to reach 1025 on Monday. So far, 1216 patients have recovered while 12 of them succumbed to COVID-19 infection.

Among Monday’s cases, Sirmaur district reported the highest 31 cases from Govindgarh (mohalla) locality in Nahan. Complete lockdown of two days was imposed in this area but the spurt in cases continues. Fifteen new cases were reported from Baddi and Parwanoo in Solan district while remaining cases were reported from Bilaspur (11), Mandi (10), Kangra (16), Shimla (5), Una (2), Hamirpur (1), and Chamba (3).

In Shimla, five family members of a policeman, who had tested positive a couple of days ago, also tested positive.

HP Health Department’s COVID-19 Bulletin July 27, 2020 (9PM)

himachal pradesh demand of lockdown amid surge in covid-19

Some leaders of the ruling party (BJP) continue to invite criticism for behaving irresponsibly. The government itself is not learning any lesson from the situation in Govindgarh- a hot spot where the outbreak was triggered due to a marriage ceremony.

On Monday, the opposition Congress filed a police complaint against three persons including a BJP leader for violating rules by roaming around and meeting a large number of people instead of placing themselves under home-quarantine. The opposition said that samples of these persons were taken after they showed symptoms of the COVID-19 infection. Still, these persons kept roaming around after giving samples. The opposition has also alleged a discrimination was seen in initiating legal action for violations of social distancing norms. In Spiti, hundreds of tribal women were booked for staging protest against Minister Ram Lal Markanda for not adhering to the resolution passed by the locals regarding mandatory quarantine for all including the residents of the district. Cases have been filed against the opposition Congress too for violating these norms during recent protests. 

Earlier, a leader from Mandi had introduced the coronavirus in Chief Minister’s office and the State secretariat and infected about two dozen of his contacts including the Advocate General and his family. The leader reportedly visited the IGMC, Shimla, State High Court and other offices.

Now, another ex-MLA from Nadaun and the Vice-Chairman, HRTC, was reported to have met several party workers and even attending an event as the chief guest. Vijay Agnihotri reportedly continued shopping, roaming around, and meeting people after giving a sample. Reportedly, he also attended a marriage ceremony. The district administration would now have a task to trace all his contacts.

At the sametime, the Congress was also seen disregarding the social distancing norms during their recent protests against the hike in bus fare.

Laxity in Organization of and Checking Gathering in Govt Events

While the state government has issued guidelines for attending funerals and marriages, there is hardly any seriousness when it comes to organizing government or the party events. The ‘havan’ organized in Shimla where hundreds of people had gathered and several party leaders including Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had visited it. The event had invited criticism as the Chief Minister and workers of BJP Mahila Morcha were seen disregarding every social distancing norm. 

An employee of HP University also tested positive recently. A few days prior to the confirmation of this case, an event was organized at the varsity on the occasion of the Foundation Day a large number of people including media persons were present.  

Amid such a sharp increase in cases, instead of being so lax, the government is supposed to prohibit any such gathering or at least issue guidelines regarding the maximum number of persons allowed to attend such events/functions.

Solan district where the total COVID-19 cases have reached 553 has begun to witness a shortage of health staff.  The BBN area is the worst hit and has reported about 80 percent of the total cases in Solan. According to a media report, there are only 10 doctors at the CHC at Nalagarh and six at the Civil hospital, Baddi. There are only 28 nurses.

Amid this panic, the public, especially from Shimla district has been suggesting the imposition of a lockdown and questioning the government over still keeping the border open for tourists. To make thing even worse, there are instances where people violated quarantine rules after their samples were taken or were not monitored properly. In Mandi district’s Bagsaid market, a person had opened his meat shop giving a sample. It was after the arrival of his report that the shop was closed. 

Further, the online opinion poll of the State Government inviting public opinion over the imposition of a complete lockdown in the state has led to speculations of a possible lockdown from August 1st.  The matter regarding a lockdown is expected to be taken up in the Cabinet meeting to be held on July 30. The public is confused and preparing to stock up ration/essentials or planning to leave for villages. Several readers have also been writing to Himachal Watcher to inquire about the possibility of imposition of a complete lockdown.  

Continue Reading

HW Community

First Open for Tourism, Then Train Staff, HP Govt Goes Topsy Turvy

Published

on

Himachal pradesh CM jairam thakur on hotel staff training

Shimla- In the last week, the Himachal state government has taken decisions that could have a long-lasting impact on citizens without consulting or even informing all stakeholders.

First, it came out with guidelines for tourism that did not have any inputs from the tourism industry. Second, it decided to open the state for tourism without consulting hotel and travel industry or keeping village pradhans in the loop.Six days after the decision to allow tourist activity and opening State borders for tourists, the state government of HP has decided to train people employed with the industry.

“Online training for the Hospitality sector would also be held in wake of COVID-19. About 10,000 candidates would be provided one-day training on hygiene and sanitation procedures. Three weeks training on basic essential of a tourist guide communication skill etc. would be provided to about four hundred candidates,”

said Chief Minister Jairam Thakur in a review meeting with Tourism Industry officials on 8th July. It’s surprising that the Government did not find the time to either have this ‘1 day training’ program ready or train the staff of hotels and restaurants before throwing open state borders for tourists. The government gave no time to the hotel industry to understand, prepare and implement directions given in the issued SOPs.

Major Hotel Associations have already decided to keep hotels closed at least till September and  Village Pradhans have also refused to allow tourists into their jurisdiction. The Chief Minister said that the State Government is following the lead of states such as Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Goa, Kerala etc. where the Governments have decided to open the State for tourists.

To enter Himachal Pradesh, tourists have to meet three conditions, a valid booking for at least five days, a COVID-19 test report from an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) certified laboratory not older than 72 hours and their vehicle should have a sanitisation certificate.

About 600 tourists have already entered Kangra district. Police arrested a couple in Kangra district who managed to enter the State by furnishing a fake COVID-19 negative report.

“A case was registered at Damtal police station against a couple who entered HP from Bhadroya barrier based on fake COVID Negative test report. Legal action is being initiated against them for cheating, fraud & forgery. They are currently lodged in an institutional quarantine facility at Parour,”

SP, Kangra, Vimukt Ranjan, said confirming the report. In another case in Kullu, five tourists, who managed to enter the State and reach Bajaura barrier in Kullu, were detained for not carrying required documents. A total of 12 tourists have been allowed in to Kullu district after they met the three conditions needed for tourists.

According to Kullu district police, about 70 tourists from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh etc. were sent back for not fulfilling conditions prescribed by the State Government. Tourists who should be sent back for a lack of required documents and fulfilling conditions given in the SOPs issued by the State Government are able to cross barriers at borders, like Parwanoo and Swarghat.

Police manning barricades are also frontline staff who are at risk.

We have provided police who are manning the barricades with N95 masks, raincoats that will serve a double purpose for rain and COVID protection and long gloves, policemen over the age of 50 years and those with existing conditions are not deployed at barricades,

said DSP, Kullu, Priyank Gupta.

While the majority of the hospitality industry players, (which is worst hit by the loss of business), is against opening the State for tourism, there are some, especially those who have leased hotels and taken loans who want to open for tourism. However, until the state government takes steps to add healthcare facilities and make more dedicated COVID hospital wards especially in rural areas, large scale tourism could endanger locals.

Continue Reading

Trending