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Kotkhai Rape-Murder Case: Violent protest erupts in Shimla as public senses conspiracy in SIT investigation, demand CBI inquiry

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HP Police SIT investigation

Shimla– People and local media in Himachal Pradesh are not ready to accept the claims made by Director General of Police, HP, and Special Investigation Team (SIT) that real culprits of Kotkhai rape and murder case are arrested, and the case is actually solved. Locals, media persons, and several other sources are sensing a conspiracy to save some or all real culprits.

theog protest and chakka jam

As per fresh reports, people in Theog took to the road protesting against the police, and pelted stone on the local police station. Allegedly, people scuffled with the police officials and damaged a police vehicle. The entire traffic was blocked on the NH 5 and people demanded Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry, showing disbelief in state police and law agencies.

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People reactions and their doubts seem genuine considering the twists this entire case has taken. There remains ambiguity in police investigation report and final claim of SIT that all actual culprits are behind bars.

Here are some of the questions that people and media want the HP Police to clarify:

Who were the 4 persons, the photos of whom were posted by Chief Minister as suspects?

On Thursday evening, four photos were allegedly posted on Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s official and verified Facebook Page, accompanying text claimed them to be the four suspects behind horrifying case of gang-rape and murder of the school girl. The photos were soon deleted once they went viral. Now, the public is asking who these persons were, and why their photos were shared by the CM.

Photos of Kotkhai rape suspects

It’s hard to believe that Chief Minister’s personal IT Cell including his IT adviser, Gokul Butail shared those images without any confirmation from the SIT. Is CM’s IT Cell foolish enough to pick random photos from social media or WhatsApp and post them on the claims made by social media? It’s very difficult to believe.

Secondly, Chief Minister hasn’t taken any responsibility about the alleged posting of photos. Neither did his IT Cell or he deem it necessary to explain the reason behind such reckless posting on social media. Who were those four persons and why they are not in scene anymore?

Moreover, these four persons are completely silent over the matter. One of them deleted his status in which he had pleaded innocent, while choose to remain silent. As a natural response, after arrest of all six culprits, these persons should have updated people on social media about authentication of their claims of innocence in such a heinous crime, but they haven’t.

kotkhai case conspiracy

What about previous theory cited by SIT?

Since the discovery of girl’s body from the Halaila woods, police claimed to have worked on several aspects. A day before the police press conference, police inputs were suggesting that the girl was possibly abducted in a vehicle and the crime was committed at the house of some influential person.

Reports had clearly mentioned inputs of the SIT claiming that the house was traced on the basis of call details and call dump of nearest cellphone towers.

Inputs had also claimed that police had traced the vehicle in which the girl’s dead body was transported to the spot where it was found. Police had suggested a theory that the crime was not committed at the spot where her body was found, and that the body was transported in a vehicle to the spot.

A News18 report on Friday morning claimed that one of victim’s socks was recovered from Ashish’s house (first arrested accused).

Now, people and media are asking where have the house, vehicle, and recovered socks disappeared at the last moment?

Ashish Chauhan was first to be arrested, but police didn’t reveal how he was related to the crime

It’s a very genuine question: How is it possible that police doesn’t know the role of the first arrested accused? On what basis was Ashish arrested if he isn’t linked to the crime directly? Police said, Ashish had information about the crime and people involved. But, if he was not involved, then how did he possess the information?

At the press conference, the police clearly said it doesn’t have details regarding the involvement and role of Ashish in the crime at this point, and that the investigation is still on.

People want to know why the role of Ashish wasn’t disclosed when he was the first man arrested by the SIT.

If Nepalese were involved, then why they left the body near their own settlement? Why didn’t they flee from the village?

Public isn’t convinced that all accused were migrant laborers including two Nepalese. Initially police had suggested that the body was dumped near a Nepalese settlement to misguide investigation and put the blame on laborers. Why they would dump the body in open, just 200 meters from their own settlement if they were the actual culprits?

People also want to know that if the culprits were migrant laborers, why didn’t they run away after committing such a heinous crime?

No one would try to rape and murder a victim just 100 meters from road in broad daylight

A local journalist employed with a Hindi Daily has raised several questions in his Facebook post he posted after the press conference. He argued that the spot of crime cited by SIT is just 100 meters from the nearest motorable road, and is partially visible from the road. Moreover, the Nepalese settlement is also very near, about 200 meters from the spot.

People are questioning the possibility of such gruesome crime on a vulnerable location in broad daylight?

Why animals didn’t eat up or mauled the body in two days?

Except the habitation, the entire region is a dense forest reportedly full of wild animals like leopards, bears, and wild dogs. As per the SIT, the crime was committed on July 4, and the girl died on the same day. Her body was found on the morning of July 6, which brings us to a question: possibly how was the body not mauled by animals if it remained dumped there for two nights?

Conspiracy to save real culprits, who belong to well-to-do families

Public and media are concluding all these arguments as an intentional effort by SIT to save the real culprits. Some unofficial and unconfirmed local sources are speculating that the laborers were offered ridiculous amount of money in exchange of false confession. People are also demanding that bank account details of parent’s of four suspects should be investigated as they might have done heavy transactions, perhaps worth crores, during these days.

Top Photo: Amar Ujala

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.

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17 People of Himachal Visited COVID-19 Hotspot Nizamuddin in Delhi: HP Govt

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Himachali's at Nizamuddin, Delhi

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government on Tuesday confirmed that as many as 17 people of the State were on the religious congregation at Delhi Nijamuddeen. All of them are under 14 days surveillance of Delhi Government at New Delhi and till now they have no symptoms of COVID-19.

These persons belong to Chamba, Sirmaur, and Kullu districts.

This large religious gathering at Delhi’s Nizamuddin has emerged as a virus hotspot with links to seven COVID-19 deaths. Among those who had attended the gathering, 50 have tested positive in Tamil Nadu, 24 in Delhi, 21 in Telangana, 18 in Andhra Pradesh, 10 in Andamans and one each in Assam and Kashmir after attending the gathering. 

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) shared details of foreign and Indian Tabhlig Jamaat (TJ) workers in India with all States on March 21, 2020, after COVID-19 positive cases among these workers surfaced in Telangana.

All the Tabligh Jamaat workers staying at Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz are being medically screened since March 26. So far, 1203 Tabligh Jamaat workers have been medically screened.  Over 300 of them had symptoms of COVID-19 and were referred to different hospitals in Delhi.

Various nationals, particularly from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan had come for Tabligh activities.

Meanwhile, So far, 1339 Tabligh Jamaat workers have been shifted to Narela, Sultanpuri and Bakkarwala quarantine facilities as well as to LNJP, RGSS, GTB, DDU Hospitals and AllMS, Jhajjar. Rest of them are being currently medically screened for COVID-19 infections. No new case has been reported in Himachal. 

Usually, all the foreign nationals visiting India as a part of Tabligh team come on the strength of a tourist visa. MHA had already issued guidelines that they should not indulge in missionary work on a tourist visa. State Police would be examining categories of visas of all these foreign TJ workers and take further action in case of violation of visa conditions.

BACKGROUND

Tabligh Jamaat Headquarter (Markaz) is located in Nizamuddin, Delhi. Devout Muslims from across the country and also from foreign countries visit the Markaz for religious purpose. Some also move out in groups to different parts of the country for Tabligh activities. This is a continuous process throughout the year.

On March 21, approximately 824 foreign Tabligh Jamaat workers were in different parts of the country for missionary work. Besides, around 216 foreign nationals were staying in the Markaz. Besides, over 1500 Indian TJ workers were also staying in the Markaz while around 2100 Indian TJ workers were touring different parts of the country for missionary work. Since March 23, the lockdown has been strictly imposed by State authorities/police across Delhi including in and around Nizamuddin and Tabligh work came to a halt.

As of now, nearly 1400 confirmed cases and 35 deaths have been reported. During the last 24 hours, 227 new confirmed cases and 3 new deaths have been reported.

 

 

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Pandemic – ‘Nationwide Lock-down’ A Tale of Caution & Hope

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Curfew Relaxation in Himachal Pradesh 3

Shimla-It’s for the first time in the history of our planet that the entire Humankind is together and is focused on fighting with one problem.

In India, from many days Doctors have been coming out and demanding a nationwide lockdown fearing the wrath of the virus which has been raging hell all across the world. The State has now responded and has ordered a 21-day lockdown for the entire nation, which is an unprecedented move.

The Lockdown is an extreme step which is demanded by these extraordinary circumstances. And as expected it has and will continue to have a huge impact on the economic health of the country. It has paralysed virtually all commerce and has put millions of people out of work, leaving many struggling with basic requirements like food and medicines. This has caused much debate in the media and elsewhere that whether we are ‘over-reacting’ to the coronavirus outbreak?

In this post, the author argues that the present step of a ‘National Lockdown’ is the most efficient and only available first response which the Government could have taken to tackle the immediate and ongoing existential crisis.

The viability of measures is to be seen through the lens of precaution and what might be the risk to reward outcome of the decision. The ‘precautionary principle’ which has had its evolution through various judgments of our Supreme Court ultimately boils down to an understanding that “if one is bound to err then always err on the side of minimising the risk and the scale of catastrophic harm than to take high-risk measures for immediate gains”.

The question which has arisen for consideration is,  ‘what is at stake by acting too strongly versus what is at stake by acting too weakly?.

The answer, when we think about it with any seriousness, is that too strong action will more quickly reduce wealth and economic activity; whereas too weak action could put crores of lives at stake across the country, and a far greater economic impact will await us down the line.

It is here then that the value judgments behind political decisions about pandemics come into full light. Are we willing to risk economic potency, or are we willing to risk our neighbours, friends, and elders’ lives? The United States and the United Kingdom who have not still imposed a complete nationwide lockdown and are also planning to lift the partial lockdown at the time of Easter (as announced by President Trump) have obviously given a very feeble response and have given considerable weightage to their economy rather than their people. India has chosen to completely focus on its people.

Precautionary Principle 

The Global pandemic and nature of this virus is a powerful reason for aggressively employing the Precautionary Principle to reduce our collective exposure to this deadly virus, an exposure which is grave.

It is hoped that a strong regulatory action which includes measures of forced quarantine, curfew and nation-wide lockdowns, (reduction of public transport/movement/contact) throughout the country would go some way towards lowering contagion even if not completely getting rid of it.

The basic point is that we need to consider the viability of measures through the lens of precaution, and always err on the side of minimising the risk and scale of catastrophic harm. We should be willing to make huge economic sacrifices. So that many of our fellow citizens don’t have their very lives sacrificed at the altar of ‘economic growth’.

The individual choices that we are all facing over the coming months should also be shaped by precaution. We need to be aware that passing this virus to others can create huge contagion cascades that infect thousands of people. It is only by taking pronounced physical distancing steps as early on as possible can we ensure that we are not fueling the wildfire of this pandemic. For many, this may mean a lonely few months, but that is by far a worthwhile price to pay to reduce the scale of this catastrophe.

A Caution- Listen to The Cry of the Poor and Homeless

Though the step by the Government of Lock-down is commendable, there are certain extremely important issues to be kept in mind.

Our country is home to the largest undernourished population in the world. It ranks 102 in the Global Hunger Index, has 1 in 5 people living on less than Rs.150 per day. We have the largest number of street children!

We need an Economic Task Force and a distribution strategy for the supply of essential commodities to the needy.

With the massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the country, there is a *huge and urgent* need of ration and other supplies for daily wage workers, workers in the informal sector as well as masks for doctors and nurses at the frontline.

There have been some announcements which have been made by the State to tackle the above situation such as:

  •  Pradhanmantri Garib Kalyan Yojana – Rs. 1,70,000 crore (Rs. 1.7 trillion) package for poor stuck in lockdown Rs. 50 lakhs insurance cover for health workers in Covid 2019 front.
  •  Pradhanmantri Ann Yojana – 800 Mn people will get additional free 5 kg wheat/Rice and 1 kg, Dal, for 3 months from ration
  • Farmers will get upfront Rs. 2,000 in their account directly
  •  MNREGA – Daily wages increased from Rs. 182 to Rs. 202. Rs 2,000 per worker will be an additional income.
  •  Old Age peoples – Poor senior citizen/widow / handicapped will get additional Rs. 1,000/pm for another 3 months.
  • Mahila Jan Dhan Account – Women will get additional Rs. 500/pm for another 3 months
  • Ujjwala Yojana – Below Poverty Level family will get free LPG cylinder for next 3 months
  •  Up to 20 lakh collateral-free loans for the SHGs from earlier 10 lakh crore cap
  • For organised sector employee and others who earn below Rs. 15,000 salary, Government will pay 12% + 12% provident fund (contribution of employee and employer) under EPF for the next 3 months.
  • EPFO regulations will be amended to allow workers under EPFO to draw up to 75% of their non-refundable advance or 3 months of wages, whichever is lower.
  •  State governments to be directed to utilise an existing Rs 31,000 crore welfare fund for the benefit for 3.5 crore construction workers

Hope & Love

Hope now is that the underprivileged will continue to receive help not only from the Government but also from the super-rich and the various religious institutions that India is so infested by and is proud of. If there was any time for religious institutions to shine this is exactly that time.

We live in a world where infinite money is printed to support corporations and banks and millions are donated to ‘Gods and Godmen’, at the same time nakedly excluding the millions homeless, who are left scrounging for their next meal. India can break this vicious cycle and take steps here out of compassion and empathy. India, the oldest civilization of the world can lead the world and show the light of ‘reason & love’ in its civilized response to the present existential crisis.

There is nothing we can do to change the constraints of our existence. Heartbreak and death await us all one day. As  Albert Camus once said;

 Love is not just a confrontation with the absurdity of the world; it is a refusal to be broken by it.  It is our choice whether we shrink from the slings and arrows of fate, or whether we stand in the full light of the sun while it shines above us.

India! its time to stand at a “physical distance” but stand Together.

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COVID-19: Lockdown in Himachal Pradesh Till Further Orders

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Himachal pradesh lockdown

Shimla– Himachal Pradesh Government today declared a complete lockdown till further orders in the State in view of COVID-19 threat. Except for essential services, everything will be shut down, declared the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur in Assembly. He said there is no need to panic as this decision has been taken only as a precautionary measure to prevent spread of coronavirus pandemic in the State. 

All transportation services including public and private vehicles except on some special routes will remain suspended till March 31st, 2020. The people will have to remain at their homes and will only be allowed to leave home in emergency conditions.

As per the notification, all interstate and intrastate movement of public and private stage and contract carriage including taxies, autorickshaws etc are prohibited. There will be a total prohibition on movement or plying of trains and commercial aircraft. The private vehicles will be plied only if essentially required for visiting hospitals and for availing/maintenance of essential services. Goods carriage vehicles will be allowed to ply.

All shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, godown etc. will have to close their operation. However, shops or stores selling groceries, milk, bread, fruit, vegetable, meat, fish and other uncooked food items and their transportation-related activities and warehousing will remain operational.

Hospitals, chemists stores, optical stores, pharmaceutical and soap manufacturing units and their ancillaries together with transportation activities will also remain operational. Besides, petrol pumps, LPG gas, oil agencies, their godowns and their transportation services will remain operational.

E-commerce (delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipments will be allowed. Production and manufacturing units which require continuous process may continue to function, after obtaining the required permission from the Deputy Commissioner and following all precautionary protocols as notified by the Health Department. Units manufacturing alcohol for medicine/sanitizers will be subject to following all precautionary protocols as notified.  

All foreign returnees, who have landed in India on or after March 9th, 2020, will have to observe a strict home quarantine. All such foreign returnees will have to notify the district surveillance officer of the concerned district and Toll-Free number 104 and register themselves for home quarantine. Any offence or failure to comply with these guidelines will attract legal action.

The people will have to stay at home and come out only for basic purposes like a visit to grocery, vegetable shops, chemists etc. and for essential and permitted work-related travel only and that too while strictly following social distancing guidelines issued from time to time. No social, cultural, sports, political, religious, academic, family or any kind of mass gathering will not be allowed under no circumstances.

As per the notification, the functioning of all Government offices will be regulated under the order issued on March 21st except for offices charged with law and order and magisterial duties, police, armed forces, and central para-military forces, health, treasury, urban local bodies and rural development, fire, electricity, water and municipal services, banks/ATM, print, electronic and social media, telecom and internet services including IT&ITeS, postal services, supply chain and related transportation.

Further, any other service which the Deputy Commissioner of the concerned district deems to be essential.

All the staff in the above-mentioned departments will not be given leave and already sanctioned leaves have been cancelled. Leave on medical grounds will be admissible only if certified by the District Medical Board.

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