SHIMLA-Maintenance of law and order can only be attained when both law enforcement agency and public co-operate with each other and share a friendly relationship. The police officers, who abuse citizens, erode public confidence in law and government. It only makes the job of honest and well mannered police officers harder. Entire police department shares the credit when they perform well. Likewise, one unmannered and misguided cop is enough to bring embarrassment to entire institute.
Himachal Watcher had published a compilation of videos and reports showing how work culture of Shimla Police is going through eerie transformation since the joining of Mr. DW Negi as Superintendent Police. The SP as well as a particular section of police staff, following the footsteps of their leader, have undertaken task to assist judiciary by being both law enforcement agency as well as judiciary.
Also Read: Shimla Police SHO alleged of beating and abusing informer, locals approach higher officials seeking action
They set up Kangroo courts of their own in public places. However, this dual role, that of an unqualified judge and insensitive policeman, has led to a form of unnecessary mental and physical harassment to public.
So far, male staff including HPS officials had demonstrated misuse of the power vested in their uniform, and were even spotted drunk, creating nuisance. But now, as per the account given by a Shimla youth, some female cops have also joined the bandwagon and adequately complement the current trend in police in the capital. The particular female cop to whom we have referred in this case is allegedly a serial offender. Different sources have recalled similar treatment on encounter with this lady. From bullying drivers to drop her home to setting kangaroo courts, there have been many instance of similar misconduct from this cop.
Before dwelling over account given by the youth, Himachal Watcher again emphasize that we acknowledge the fact that not all police officials are unworthy of wearing uniform. The job of police is one of the most challenging, psychologically stressful and physically hectic and we are grateful for their services.
There are honest and dedicated policemen who discharge their duty within defined legal, moral, and ethical limits. Here, the motive is not to defame the Himachal Pradesh Police Department. The motive is to highlight the “bad fish” that are bringing bad name to Himachal Pradesh Police Department.
In capital Shimla, this misguided section of police staff is enjoying liberty from obligations to their duties, respect to law while discharging their duties, and discipline has become a mockery for them. These “bad fish” mostly include those recruited on approach, by cheating in exam, or paying heavy bribes despite being unworthy.
Before you read the narration of police conduct while dealing with a youth, who recalled it as a wound to his and his father’s dignity and self-esteem as citizens of the state, do read guidelines and rules laid down for police staff while discharging their lawful duty under the Himachal Pradesh Police Service Act 2006, Police Act 1861 (including amendments), and most important, the directions of the Supreme Court. In India, the conflict between Human Rights Commission and police is the result of manipulation and misuse of powers provided to police.
Rule of Law Must Prevail
According to contents of these Acts and SC directions, no one is above law, not even police or judges themselves. Rule of law and justice must prevail in democracy to maintain healthy social environment and equality to all citizens. It is the court who is authorized by law to undertake the job of establishing guilt of an accused and, if found guilty in fair trial, sentencing the offender to a penalty or other punishments prescribed under Constitution of India. In simple words, even the judges can’t arbitrarily decide punishment. Rather, they are, too, bound to adhere to what is prescribed in law for a particular offence.
The directions from SC further emphasize that in securing the observance of law or in maintaining order, the police should, as far practicable, use the methods of persuasion, advice, and warming.
Further, according to Supreme Court’s guidelines to the entire institution of police in India, police should always be courteous and well-mannered. They should be dependable and impartial. They should possess dignity and courage and should cultivate character and the trust of the people.
In matters of use of physical force, the directions say that, when, the application of force becomes inevitable, only the irreducible minimum amount of force required under the circumstance should be used.
Limitation on Powers of Police
Police is directed to discharge its duty strictly in the way the law lays down and not any other way. They cannot act just as they wish or want to. Any abuse of power or negligence of duty will amount to a breach of discipline, civil wrong or a crime and the officer is liable to be punished.
In fact, because police officer is a person entrusted with upholding the law he/she should be punished more severely for breaking it, says SC directions and the Police Service Act.
A Shimla youth approached Himachal Watcher and told his alleged horrific experience during an encounter with a female cop accompanied by two other cops. The youth was left bewildered witnessing live demonstration that female police staff has far more power to victimize people to defend their ego. And this is because she is a female and threats like fake case of misbehavior is quite effective in deterring will of people who dare to object to their mistreatment or demand due respect for their constitutional rights.
As per the youth, who is (indeed) an educated and aware citizen, out of habit, used “English Words” while raising objections against police misconduct. But, the cop counted it as her insult and declared it punishable under rules of her own. She denied providing information to the complainant when he asked her to show her nameplate.
Faced with educated people who are aware of their rights and limits of police powers are headache for miscreant cops. From the allegation, it appears that this female cop serving in Shimla Police do not hesitate to create scenes on one of the most hateful themes – misbehavior with a female by a male in a male-dominated society. It’s a crucial matter and superior officials of the HP Police Department must take note of it.
As alleged by the youth, who is resident of Shimla, on Thursday afternoon at around 2:00 ‘O’clock he drove his car to the Secretariat at Chotta Shimla. While waiting for his father’s return from the Secretariat, he parked his car on roadside near Vishal Mega Mart. He was sitting in the car, waiting for his father’s return when three female cops arrived and smashed challan book on his bonnet, he alleged. The youth, as everyone usually does, appealed them not to challan as he was ready to move the vehicle. He also pleaded that he is a local and was aware as well as careful about not creating obstruction to traffic.
The response from one of the cops, in exact words, was reported by youth to be following:
“Kya Matlab hai local Ka! Local ho to kuch bhi karoge?”
(क्या मतलब है लोकल का! लोकल हो तो कुछ भी करोगे?)
The youth further pleaded that he was present in the car keeping in mind the traffic trouble Shimla faces. The youth (sadly) talked about his right to at least one warning before initiating official action or issue challan. The reply from cops, as per the yout, was
“Tu law sikhayega merko? Tu hai kon?”
(तू लॉ सिखायेगा मेरको? तू है कौन?)
Second cop added, “SHO Sahab aane wale hain tun yahi reh, Tujhe wo khud batayenge!”
(साहब आने वाले हैं तूं यही रह, तुझे वो खुद बताएँगे)
To avoid all such trouble, “I immediately started my car and tried to move it,” said the youth. “She put her hands on my car keys and attempted to snatch them from me,” he further alleged.
When the youth objected to it and said that they can challan him but cannot snatch the car key in such rude manner, the cop said “Isko ander karo. SHO aur SP sahab ko phone karo.”
(इसको तो अंदर करो! एसपी साहब को फ़ोन करो!)
One of the cops called the SHO, who advised him to be silent and to not argue with (female) cops. The SHO Mr. Negi was polite and suggested me, “Is constable ke sath behas na karo! Aap museebat me pad jaoge”
(इस कांस्टेबल के साथ बहस न करो! आप मुसीबत में पड़ जाओगे)
Meanwhile, my father arrived at the scene and requested them to not complicate the matter. However, the female cop did not stop.
“Battameez saala! Thappad maarungi tujhe (बत्तमीज़ साला! थप्पड़ मारूँगी तुझे)),” she continued in a highly uncivilized language, alleged the youth.
The youth objected, “Ma’am, I am not a murderer or a thief that you are talking to me like this. Her language further degenerated. “Saale tu to shakal se he gunda lag rha hai (साले तू तो शक्ल से ही गुंडा लग रहा है),”she started shouting publically.
When the youth objected to defamatory comments and warned the cops that he would file a complaint to superiors regarding such misbehavior and mistreatment while on duty, she said,
“Ander karo isko ! Thaane le chalo! Gaadi ko clamp karke thaane le chalo ! Isko aaj sabak sikhate hain!” (अंदर करो इसको ! थाने ले चलो! गाडी को क्लैंप करके थाने ले चलो ! इसको आज सबक सिखाते हैं)
“Ye angrejji kisi or ko mariyo jo dar jaaye tujhse ! Merko ni sunani!”, she kept shouting. (ये अंग्रेजी किसी और को मारियो जो डर जाए तुझसे! मेरको नी सुनानी)
When the youth asked the cop to show her name plate as he wanted to file a complaint name, the cops said, “Kya karega naam se tu? Nahi batati kar le jo karna”! ( क्या करेगा नाम से तू? नहीं बताती कर ले जो करना)
The father of the youth consistently requested to them to stop bullying and making false allegation. He told him to take move the car on which the youth drove the car towards Navbahar, said the youth.
“After 15 minutes, when I was on my way back towards Chotta Shimla, the cops started shouting something as the car passed by. I stopped the car so that I could hear them clearly,” the youth further told.
The youth decided to stop at the Chota Shimla Police Station to complaint regarding the mental harassment to which he was exposed by female cops.
The SHO Mr.Negi paid attention to his complaint and offered to to him and his father. However, he again adviced him, “Apko nahi behesna chahiye! Ye jo bhi bol rahe hain chup chap sunte or nikal jaate!” (आपको नहीं बहसना चाहिए! ये जो भी बोल रहे हैं चुप चाप सुनते और निकल जाते!)
“Agar ye apki kuch galat report kar dete being ladies to ap kya kar loge. Lady bolde k mere kapde faad diye to samjho aap to samjho aap fans gaye,” the SHO said with concern. (अगर ये आपकी कुछ गलत रिपोर्ट कर देते बीइंग लेडीज तो आप क्या कर लोगे! लेडी बोल दे क मेरे कपड़े फाड़ दिए तो समझो आप तो समझो आप फंस गए!)
The youth pleaded that he is a responsible citizen and there is no history of involvement in any sort of anti-social activities or crimes and that he doesn’t deserve such treatment from police.
Meanwhile, the three cops entered the police station and created hue and cry and made false allegations of misbehavior along with other serious allegations.
When the youth objected and tried to defend himself, the female cop threatened, “Ek Thappad marungi tujhe… (एक थप्पड़ मारूँगी तुझे)
To the SHO, she boasted, “Maine to maar bhi dena tha ! Ye to in dono ne mujhe rok liya nai to main nai darti kisi se” (मैंने तो मार भी देना था ! ये तो इन दोनों ने मुझे रोक लिया नै तो मैं नै डरती किसी से)
“Eventually, I was left with no alternate but to apologize to the cops. I confess it was the most fake apology I ever made in my entire life. My conscience didn’t allow me to speak the words of apology, but watching my father getting distressed, I did it,” the youth said.
While, we mere report the narrative provided by the complainant, there is no doubt about it that some miscreants in uniform have earned bad name for Shimla Police as well as for HP Police Department.
Lack of worthy leadership is leading to degrading and despicable practices in police functioning, which are condemnable in strongest terms. Police is supposed to discharge their duty without fear or favour, malice or vindictiveness. The cops are supposed to make citizens feel safer. The police must not resort to mistreatment and bullying. When a citizen, irrespective of his economic or social status, raises objections or reminds cops of his/her rights as citizen of a democratic state, the police must not count is as their insult. Police must maintain respect for individual dignity of every citizen unless and until the situation doesn’t require impolite, harsh measure. We also urge the people to co-operate the police in maintain law and order in the society.
A copy of this complaint will be forwarded to the superior officials of the HP Police department to take note of “bad fish” threatening police’s reputation and trust in people.
PIL Filed in HP High Court Re-Ignites Quest for Recognizing Pahari (Himachali) as Hill State’s Official Language
Shimla- November 10, 2021, Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday passed an order concerning a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to recognize Pahari (Himachali) as an official language of the state. The petition also sought effective steps on the part of the government to preserve and promote the Pahari language in the State as its culture and language give it a distinct identity.
The Public Interest Litigation was filed by Arsh Dhanotia with a prayer that the state be directed to declare Pahari (Himachali) as one of the official languages in the State of Himachal Pradesh in any script and also promote further research towards a long-term formal Pahari (Himachali) nuclear language structure and nuclear Tankri script.
Bhawani Pratap Singh Kutlahria, the advocate for the petitioner, argued in the court that the State Government be directed to promote Pahari (Himachali) and other local languages as the medium of instruction in primary and middle-level schools as per the New Education Policy, 2020. On behalf of the petitioner, he also prayed the court to direct the state government to include Pahari (Himachali) language as a separate category for the 2021 Census and simultaneously undertake an awareness campaign to create awareness amongst the masses, especially the youth of the State who speak Pahari (Himachali), to get it marked as their mother tongue in the upcoming Census.
A bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Sabina while disposing off the PIL stated,
“The direction as has been prayed for, cannot be issued to the State Government until and unless it is established on record that the Pahari (Himachali) language has its own script and that a common Pahari dialect is spoken throughout the State of Himachal Pradesh. We, however, set the petitioner at liberty to approach the Department of Language Art & Culture to the Government of Himachal Pradesh with his demand for undertaking research to promote a common Pahari (Himachali) nuclear language structure and nuclear Tankri script. If the petitioner approaches the respondents-State through its Additional Chief Secretary (Language Art & Culture) to the Government of Himachal Pradesh) for the prayer made in the Civil Writ Public Interest Litigation, it would be for the said authority to consider the same in accordance with the law.”
Additionally, the petition had emphasised that Sanskrit, which is the second official language of the state, had only 936 speakers according to the 2011 census and Pahari (Himachali) dialect chain which is spoken by more than 40 lakh people was being neglected and has not been made an official language even after having so many speakers.
The petition also highlighted works of Former Chief Minister Late YS Parmar and Former Education Minister Late Narain Chand Parashar towards the promotion of the Pahari (Himachali) language.
What’s Pahari (Himachali) Language, How Many Districts It Covers
It is to be noted that according to the petitioner, Pahari (Himachali) is a combined term used for the Western Pahari dialect chain spoken in Himachal Pradesh and majorly includes Kangri, Mandeali, Chambeali, Kulvi, Mahasu Pahari and Sirmauri. According to him ever since the creation of Himachal Pradesh, there has been a demand for recognition of Pahari (Himachali) under the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution and it is also officially listed with 37 more languages as a language which is in significant demand to be included in the scheduled languages category.
In his plea, he also stated that the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha in 1970 and 2010 have also passed resolutions concerning the promotion and development of Pahari (Himachali).
Himachal’s Snow Covered Area Has Decreased, Poses Big Threat to State Economy’s Lifelines: Report
Shimla-The area under snow cover in Himachal Pradesh has declined by 18.5% according to a recent report published by State Centre on Climate Change (SCCC) and Space Application Center (ISRO) Ahmedabad. The report revealed this decreasing trend for the five major river basins in the State.
As the report points out, the high altitude regions of Himachal Pradesh receive precipitation mainly in the form of snow during the winter season. One-third of the geographical area of the state is covered by a thick blanket of snow during the winter season. Rivers like Chenab, Beas, Parvati, Baspa, Spiti, Ravi, Sutlej and its tributaries flowing through Himachal are dependent on snowfall in winter. These rivers mainly feed into the Indus water system and a decline at this rate rings a death knell for water and also food security for millions of people from Himachal to Kashmir, the plains of Punjab, the food bowl of the country.
Using images and data received from satellites, the report states, that the winter precipitation was mapped in all the basins from October 2020 to May 2021 (a period of two years). The findings indicate that there has been an average decrease of 8.92 percent in Chenab basin, 18.54 percent in Beas basin, 23.16 percent in Ravi basin, 23.49 percent in Sutlej basin compared to last year. The ice covered area of Chenab basin was 7154.11 sq km in 2019-20, which has come down to 6515.91 sq km in 2020-21. Similarly, Beas basin was reduced from 2457.68 to 2002.03 square kilometer, Ravi basin from 2108.13 square kilometer to 1619.82 square kilometer and Sutlej from 11823.1 square kilometer to 9045 square kilometers. Overall, the snow covered area was reduced from 23542 square kilometer to 19183 square kilometer in the entire Himachal.
Sutlej Basin covers 45 per cent of the total geographical area of Himachal and it is the longest river of the state. It flows for around 320 kms here, passing through Lahaul and Spiti, Kinnaur, Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Solan and Bilaspur districts, along its course. The above study shows that the maximum reduction in snow cover has occurred in the Sutlej basin. An area of 4359 square kilometers under snow cover has decreased for the whole state, of which more than half of the Sutlej Basin.
Just two years ago another study had indicated that more than half of glaciers in Sutlej Basin are set to vanish by 2050. Yet another study also showed that the Sutlej basin has the highest 562 number of glacial lakes. These lakes stand the risk of sudden outbursts, which then causes flash floods downstream as the valley has already experienced. So, while the crisis that is unfolding, be it deglaciation, lake formation or reduction in area under snow cover, it seems that the Sutlej river basin is more vulnerable to these changes.
Prakash Bhandari, an environmental researcher and activist and member of Himdhara Collective expressing his concern states that the situation in the Sutlej river basin is certainly indicative of a serious climate emergency and it is critical to look into the drivers of this both local and global.
“The Sutlej basin catchment is the largest and so the changes visible here are more significant. Many factors have worked together to create this crisis which should be studied closely. There is no doubt that global warming is contributing to these changes. But the local conditions also play a role in reducing or increasing its impact”, he says.
The upper reaches of the Sutlej Valley, especially areas like Kinnaur are geologically fragile, with sharp gradients and loose soil strata. Vegetation is in a very small area so the proneness to erosion. We have seen the catastrophic impacts of flashfloods and landslides over the last decade and a half, where crores worth of property has been damaged. This year saw a spate of landslides where lives were lost. “In such a sensitive and also strategically important area, changes in the landscape will have far reaching and irreversible impacts. More construction activities will lead to more deforestation, more erosion”.
Construction of dams has been rampant in the Sutlej valley, a phenomena that started post independence and continues today. If all of the planned dams are built the Sutlej will be cho-a-cloc with more then 150, large and small projects. At the bottom of the valley in Bilaspur is the Bhakra Dam, built almost 6 decades ago, which has a size of 168 sq km and a storage capacity of 9.340 cubic km. Is. This is followed by the Kol Dam which extends for 42 km up to Sunni, which has a total storage capacity of 90 million cubic metres. Nathpa Jhakri Project which is 27.394 kms. is long. When a dam is built, a huge amount of water is stored. The debris of many villages, trees etc. also gets absorbed inside the dam. When water is stagnant, it receives heat from the Sun to form mist in the surrounding area by evaporation and simultaneously generates methane gas. The experience of the lake formed by the Kol dam at Tattapani in Mandi district shows that the area is experiencing heavy haze which was not there earlier.
“In the 30s and 40s, Shikari Devi and Kamrunag used to have snow on the peaks for about 6 months, which now could barely stop for only 2 months. The air route distance of Shikari Devi and Kamrunag is only 26 to 30 kms from Tattapani lake. At the same time, their distance is not much from the cement factories of Darlaghat, Sundernagar”, the elders in the area say. “Today, fog is prevalent and this has also made the area warmer”.
Due to the warming of the weather due to the clouds formed from the mist, the snow has started melting quickly. Apart from this the local crop patterns are affected. Post the 1990s, the Sutlej became a site for run of the river hydroelectric projects using extensive underground tunneling. This involves massive use of explosives for blasting through the mountains. Of the 23,000 MW worth of projects to be constructed in Himachal more than 10,000, a third are from this valley alone. Kinnaur continues to be a hydel powerhouse with 10 run of the river projects in progress and 30 more to be set up including two mega projects of 1500 MW and 1000 MW each. This paints a scary picture.
Interactive Sutlej River-Basin Map indicate Hydropower Station location
It is not just the hydro-electric dams but unplanned tourism and other development activities like mining, cement plants, road expansion and mindless construction across the high Himalayan regions have also add to the shift in local weather patterns, land use changes and thus the ecological crisis. But the reason why we should put the limelight on hydropower is that this is being pushed as “Green Energy”, in the name of climate change mitigation. As opposed to other forms of generating power, hydropower projects are said to cause lesser carbon emissions, which is why there has been a global push to shift to renewable resources. But the climate emergency in the Himalayas has put a question mark on ‘water’ as a renewable resource.
The question then arises that with all this data indicating a steady decline in river discharge and snow cover have our planners and policy makers not considered what will happen to these projects? Will they be able to generate the power they propose to? The people of Himalaya have to wake up to this wastage of public resources. Scarce funds should be diverted to better planning for securing local livelihoods by protecting the forest ecosystems and water sources for the future.
Feature Images: unsplash/@raimondklavins
Himachal: Warnings of Delta Plus Virulence Fall on Deaf Ears, No Restriction on Visitors from Affected States
Shimla-Yesterday, the Centre government directed the state governments to take immediate measure in wake of the spread of more infectious Delta Plus variant. As the Delta Plus variant is posing a threat of the third wave, the states were told to take steps like preventing crowds, increase testing, more focus on surveillance, contact tracing and put boosting vaccine coverage on a priority basis. Following it, Himachal Pradesh Government might have announced an alert over Delta plus variant, but there wasn’t any follow up on instructions passed by scientists and health experts to take strict restrictive measures ahead of the impending third wave.
To make it worse, high rank officials and political leaders were seen flouting Covid-19 SOPs on several occasion, which sent wrong messages to the masses. The pictures and videos showing flouting of Covid appropriate behavior by Chief Minister Jairam Thakur and Directorial General of Police, Sanjay Kundu, alongwith other staff for Anupam Kher is the most recent to mention. A group photograph and video of the same were widely circulated on social media and invited huge criticism from the people.
So far, the state has not reported any case of the Delta Plus variant. But the neighboring states – Punjab, Haryana, and Jammu & Kashmir – reported their first cases yesterday. This puts the boarding areas, like in Una district, at a higher risk. Chief Secretary to HP Government, Anil Khachi, yesterday said samples have been sent for genome sequencing.
Despite repeated warnings of Delta plus variant (B.1.617.2.1.), Himachal Pradesh has thrown its borders open to all and lifted all restrictions for inter-state travel in just one go. From June 23 onwards, the state government removed the condition for registering on the e-pass portal for visitors intending to enter the state. In the Cabinet meeting held on June 22, 201, the government first decided that e-pass restrictions would be removed from July 1, but later it changed the decision and instead implemented it immediately.
This haphazard decision is said to have come under huge pressure from the hospitality industry – the worst-hit sector, leading to financial crisis and mass unemployment among its stakeholders. Related associations had been approaching Chief Minister Jairam Thakur with their pleas to provide relief, but mostly faced disappointment. The stakeholders say the state government didn’t provide any significant relief, which is making the survival of the industry difficult.
Also, stakeholder of the industry, especially hoteliers, had been demanding the removal of restrictions and conditions on the entry of tourists to Himachal so that they could fetch the remaining peak tourist season.
With its inability to offer relief, the HP Government took the chance to waive off restrictions in a haste.
At the same time, the state government has decided to conduct offline examinations for the undergraduate classes starting from July. A section of the students had been condemning the HP government for scheduling exams without vaccinating students. Some student bodies had been asking the government as to why online classes were possible but not online exams.
The state government also waived off restrictions on timings for the opening of markets/shops.
As scientists and health experts warn of the virulence of the new variant and with neighboring states already on alert after reporting cases of the new variant, the HP government hasn’t even mentioned any intention to at least put a check on the visitor from the states where cases of Delta Plus are being reported. Carrying an RT-PCR negative report for visitors from such states/cities would have been a wiser step.
Officially, the state is on alert, but no measures have been announced to check the entry and spread of the variant into the state. The state government does speak of preparing for the anticipated third wave, but there is hardly any long-term preventive strategy. The Covid appropriate behavior is hard to adopt when markets and tourist places are crowded with visitors.
Why Delta Plus is a Big Concern
The World Health Organization (WHO) has labelled the Delta variant as ‘Variant of Concern’.
The Centre and scientific/medical institutes in India also agree with that Delta Plus as a variant of concern and could be the cause of impending third wave. Last Tuesday, based on the findings of INSACOG, the Union Health Ministry had alerted and advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh regarding the Delta Plus variant of COVID19.
INSACOG had warned that the Delta Plus variant has increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
“Delta variant is more resistant to medication, treatment and vaccination. Therefore, people who have been vaccinated can still be affected by this variant and can go on to get a clinical illness, Archana Dhawan Bajaj, director, Nurture IVF, told a national English Daily.
“Neutralising antibodies against this variant post-vaccination seem to be nearly five times lower in people who have already been vaccinated than the other variants,” she said.
Further, Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, ex-Head Scientist of Epidemiology and communicable diseases, ICMR, has also expressed concern over the reports that Delta Plus has reported pathophysiologic change and affecting different organs. Dr Raman says that it could transfer from cell to cell and would more likely produce neurological symptoms as a common manifestation.
So far India has reported 51 cases of the Delta Plus variant.
Delta Plus variant is a variant of Delta with an additional mutation -B.1.617.2.1.