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Anurag Thakur should stop inaugurating PMGSY projects for the sake of taking credit: Virbhadra

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SHIMLA- The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh yesterday performed Bhoomi Pujan of Rs. 10.27 crore Nagnoli-Ispur road. Interestingly, Anurag Thakur, sitting member of Parliament and BCCI President, had also performed ‘Bhoomi-Poojan’ (Inaugural Ceremony) for the aforesaid road prior to the CM claiming it as a developmental step from the Centre government.

The CM slammed Anurag Thakur and said that instead of taking credit for Centrally sponsored schemes under obligations, the BCCI President should work for strengthening State-Centre relations.

“It is pertinent to mention that sitting Member of Parliament Anurag Thakur from the region also performed the Bhoomi Pujan of the said road from Panjawar to Bathri just to take credit though the road required strengthening from Nagnoli to Ispur”, said the CM.

Under Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojna, (PMGSY) or any other Central scheme, it is obligatory for Union government to provide State’s share for development. Besides, over and above the land belongs to the State and it was the right of the State government to either lay foundation stone or inaugurate the centrally sponsored projects. The Central government can claim ownership of land in Union Territories. It is the duty of the Union government to ensure progress of the states equally, he said.

CM advised Anurag Thakur that instead of concentrating on inaugurations and taking credit of the States share, he should rather fight for and take up the matter for release of funds for the Swan River Channelisation, which is withheld by Union Government since long.

“If Anurag Thakur is a true benefactor of the people of the area, as Member of Parliament, he should take up the pending works and grants which were hanging at different levels in union ministries,” said the CM.

The Chief Minister appraised the recommendation of Lodha Committee which was tightening its noose around the office bearers of the State Cricket Associations holding office of profit and the administrative body of ever rich Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI).

Washing Machine Distribution under Welfare Scheme for Women

Chief Minister gave these statements at a function held at Khad village in Haroli constituency of Una district. He also launched the State level Welfare Scheme for women registered with Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board at a function. Washing machines were distributed to the women under the scheme with assurance of distribution of washing machines all over the State in phased manner.

As per official statement, 1100 washing machines will be distributed to the women registered under the Board. The CM was also urged to enhance the token amount for marriage of two issues of the families registered under the Construction Welfare board from Rs. 25 thousand to Rs. 51 thousand in near future. In case of natural and accidental death, it was urged that the sum is enhanced from Rs. 50 thousand and Rs. one lakh to Rs. 2 lakh each respectively.

Under the scheme, it was requested to the CM to spend around Rs. 100 crore under the scheme till march to benefit the working class under the Board.

On Demonetization

The CM also spoke over the decision of demonetisation taken by Centre on the name of curbing black money. He welcomed the decision, but pointed out that Rs. 2000 notes should have been made considering compatibility with ATMs. The Union Government should have worked on all ifs and buts before introducing the currency besides other technicalities which are now posing huge inconvenience to common masses.

Land Ceiling for Purchase of Tractors Abolished

The CM announced abolition of land ceiling for purchase of tractor for agricultural purpose, which was 20 Kanal earlier along with one time waiving off the pending arrears and taxes of tractor owners. The Chief Minister also announced depositing one time tax to be paid by tractor owners for purchasing tractors for agricultural purpose.

Earlier, the Chief Minister inaugurated Rs. 9.00 crore 3 storey building hospital building besides Modern Rural Health Research Centre within the campus of civil hospital at Haroli completed with an outlay of Rs. 1.60 crore. He also announced Helipad and PHC at Beetan in Haroli. He also laid foundation stone of Government Degree College at Khad to cost Rs. 12.25 crore.

Misc News/Press Release

India’s Rank in World Press Freedom Index Drops to 140 in 2019, Report Points Out Hindutva and Nationalism Agendas

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The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has been released today. As a matter of huge concern in the list of 180 countries surveyed, India has dropped down to 140th position from last year’s 138.  Norway was ranked at number one.

India has been placed close to Pakistan at 142, and Bangladesh at 150.

The overall findings showed hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media

As per the Index, threats, insults and attacks are now part of the “occupational hazards” for journalists in many countries.

“In India, where critics of Hindu nationalism are branded as “anti-Indian” in online harassment campaigns, six journalists were murdered in 2018,”

the RSF said in its Index.

Violence against journalists – including police violence, attacks by Maoist fighters, and reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt politicians – is one of the most striking characteristics of the current state of press freedom in India, the report said.

As per the RSF report, at least six Indian journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2018. A number of doubts surround a seventh case. These murders highlighted the many dangers Indian journalists face, especially those working for non-English-language media outlets in rural areas.

“Attacks against journalists by supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi increased in the run-up to general elections in the spring of 2019. Those who espouse Hindutva, the ideology that gave rise to Hindu nationalism, are trying to purge all manifestations of “anti-national” thought from the national debate,”

the report said.

“The coordinated hate campaigns waged on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that aggravate Hindutva followers are alarming and include calls for the journalists concerned to be murdered. The campaigns are particularly virulent when the targets are women,”

the report noted.

Further, the RSF report said that the emergence of a #MeToo movement in the media in 2018 has lifted the veil on many cases of harassment and sexual assault to which women reporters have been subjected. It also said that criminal prosecutions are meanwhile often used to gag journalists critical of the authorities, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124a of the penal code, under which “sedition” is punishable by life imprisonment.

 The mere threat of such a prosecution encourages self-censorship.

Coverage of regions that the authorities regard as sensitive, such as Kashmir, continues to be very difficult. Foreign reporters are barred from Kashmir and the Internet is often disconnected there,

RSF report said.

It also suggested that when not detained, Kashmiri journalists working for local media outlets are often the targets of violence.

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Misc News/Press Release

Mohali Rape Case: Victim Reached 2 Police Stations, Still No Action Was Taken

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Shimla-A 22-year-old girl, who is a resident of Himachal Pradesh, was allegedly raped on April 15 in a cab in Mohali. As per the victim, she was made to run from one police station to other but none of them filed an FIR. The girl had to walk back to her home. After two days, when the matter was brought to the notice of senior police officials, an SHO was suspended for inaction and an FIR was filed.

The alleged apathy of police is worrisome as it raises questions over the willingness of police to ensure the safety of women.

As per the victim, who got married two months back and is employed with a call centre in Mohali, she was on the way to her office when a cab stopped close to her. The driver inquired about an address from the victim and then offered her a lift. The woman accepted the lift. From Phase VIII, where she sat in the car, the cab driver took her to an abandoned ground near a government building in Sohana area and allegedly raped her. He threatened her of dire consequences in case she tried to scream or to raise an alarm.

The victim said the accused then took her to a road in an isolated area and tried to rape her again. However, as per the victim, she managed to distract the accused and escape. The accused sped away from the spot.

She sat in the car in Phase VIII but was raped in Sohana area. When she reached Sohana police station, SHO Daljeet Singh sent her to the police station under which Phase VIII falls. The SHOs reportedly cited jurisdictional issues as the reason for not filing her complaint. However, there is a provision of ‘Zero FIR’ that can be lodged at any police station irrespective of jurisdiction. 

Moreover, the alleged crime was committed between 9 PM to 11 PM – in broad daylight. The victim said she remained his captive for almost two hours.

A senior police official told media that the girl was unable to recall the number of the vehicle. The official assured that case has been registered and a departmental inquiry was ordered against the SHO of Sohana police station. A case was filed against the unidentified accused under Sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).  The police said CCTV footages from concerned areas are being collected. A sketch of the victim would also be prepared to nab the accused, the official told media.  

As the woman hailed from Himachal Pradesh, police drew criticism from people of Hill State. Several people tagged Himachal Watcher on Twitter and Facebook asking it to highlight the issue. They expressed their distress over the attitude of the police.

Now, the National Commission of Women has also issued a notice to the Director General of Police, Punjab, expressing concern over the safety of females and working of police.

A National English Daily reported that the suspended SHO belonged to Jagraon in Ludhiana, and has a controversial history.

Daljeet was recruited in police in 2000 on compassionate grounds after his father, a deputy superintendent of police with Punjab Police, was killed by terrorists. He has faced departmental inquiries earlier for not revealing his pending criminal case before joining the duty. The Daily said he enjoyed strong political patronage.

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Election Watch

Black Paint Smeared on HP BJP Chief’s Face in Posters, Congress Also Files Police Complaint

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Black Paint Smeared on Satpal Satti's Posters in Shimla

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) has filed a complaint to police for lodging an FIR against Satpal Singh Satti, President of BJP HP, for making derogatory remarks and statements against INC President Rahul Gandhi. Congress said this news was also published by various newspapers on Monday.

HPCC has already made a call for state-wide protest against Satti on April 16.

At the same time, the obscene remarks have angered the State Youth Congress. Workers of Youth Congress were smearing black paint on Satti’s face on BJP poster in Shimla as a protest. Workers can also be seen in the video writing ‘Besharm Satti’ (Shameless) on BJP posters.

The State President of Youth Congress, Manish Thakur, has made a call do the same with BJP chief’s face on posters across the State. All workers across Himachal should boycott and burn effigies of Satti in their respective constituencies, he said.

In its complaint, HPCC said that on April 14, 2019, Satpal Singh Satti was addressing a public meeting organised at Ramshaher of  Nalagarh Vidhan Sabha Assembly in District Solan. During his address, he allegedly passed derogatory remarks against Rahul Gandhiji and former UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. These remarks were highly defamatory and against women’s dignity, Congress said in its complaint. It also alleged that the objectionable remarks used by Satti are also in gross violation of the guidelines laid down by Election Commission of India.

The unparliamentary language used by Satti while delivering the speech in this meeting tarnishes the image of AICC President Rahul Gandhi, the complaint said.

 The abusive remarks used against Sonia Gandhi are damaging the public image of a woman, who is given the utmost importance in the Social Indian setup, it said.

These remarks would tarnish the image of Congress Party in India as well as in Himachal, the complaint said.  Congress also complained that Satti has committed a criminal offence by passing derogatory remarks and has also violated the guidelines issued by Election Commission of India for smooth conduction of elections.  Some cuttings from today’s Dallies were also attached with the complaint.

Satti, as per a PTI report, refused to apologize for the remarks, and said he was merely reading contents of a comment posted by someone on social media.  Instead, he said Rahul Gandhi and Congress leaders should apologise for using ‘chor’ word for PM.

I have narrated an incident while addressing a public meeting in Nalagarh tehsil of Solan district whereby a derogatory remark was made against Rahul in retaliation of using ‘chor’ word for PM in a viral social media message,

he told PTI.

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