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Kotkhai Police Probe: Women Commission not convinced either, suspects a cover-up

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Kotkhao Probe National Commisson For Women

Shimla – In the Kotkhai rape and murder case, the National Commission for Women member, Sushma Sahu, came down heavily on the Himachal Pradesh Police, State Government, and the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh in a press conference held in Shimla on Saturday.

The doubts among people have further deepened as the NCW member, too, expressed serious doubts over the police investigation and the attitude of the State Government toward the case.

She rounded up the State Government for highly careless acts such as revealing the identity of the minor victim by naming a school after her real name. Despite prohibition under legal provisions, the name of the victim was mentioned in the official notification issued by the government in this regards, which should invite legal action against it, she said.

Sahu, who is in Shimla regarding the investigation of the rape and murder of a 16-years-old school going girl in Kotkhai Tehsil of Shimla district, has upheld the allegation of locals that the police and the government are trying to shield real culprits, who hail from influential families. She showered several questions over the probe and pointed out several loopholes and the missing links in the police investigation.

Sahu had sent for the Director General of the Police to take stock of the entire investigation. However, the DGP didn’t show up. Instead, another official (ADGP) appeared who wasn’t even aware of the names of the accused and hardly had any idea about the investigation, she said. The ADGP had no answer when he was asked where the DGP was.

On the basis of her interaction, she asked the State Government to provide security to the victim’s family and immediate financial assistance to the wife of Suraj, the Nepalese accused killed in the police custody.

She questioned the government over its inaction and investigation regarding upload and deletion of photos of four persons on the Chief Minister’s official Facebook page on the night of July 11. The government hasn’t given any explanation from where those photos appeared and who was responsible for uploading them on CM’s official FB page, she remarked. She said no FIR was lodged in this regard despite the fact that this faux pas had fueled the chaos in public.

Sahu said during her visit to the family of the victim, she discovered that the wife of the Chief Minister, Pratibha Singh, had insisted the family to not push for the CBI inquiry in the case. However, Pratibha Singh, in a reply to these remarks, said her statement was twisted. She denied allegations of pressing the family to not ask for a CBI inquiry. She said the family was satisfied with the police investigation at that time.

The NCW member raised questions over the post-mortem report and the sequence of the crime given by the police in its probe. She further said that according to the report of the post-mortem conducted on Jul 7, the victim had eaten rice a few hours before her death, but the police probe report establishes July 4 as the date of her death, which is contradictory.

The parents who had seen the body at the spot reported fresh marks on her neck and the body. The father also claimed her leg and arm was fractured, she said. The father also told her that there was no sign of a struggle at the muddy spot and there was no mud on nails of the victim, which goes against the police claim that the crime was committed on the very spot where the victim’s body was found on July 6.

Further, in a sarcastic tone, she asked the police department what the staff was doing when the Nepalese accused Suraj was killed in the police lockup. She further questioned why the two suspects were kept in the same lockup. She said the suspension of the police staff over the killing of accused in the custody is just eyewash.

Mamata, the wife of the killed accused said her husband was detained by the police for questioning. When he returned home at evening, he was in a miserable shape. He told her that he was badly beaten by the policemen who were allegedly drinking while question him, saiid Sahu. Mamata, Sahu added, claimed her husband was working in the orchards with her on July 4 and 5, but police did not verify this fact. Similarly, Raju, another accused, had taken his mother to hospital on July 5, which can be verified through hospital authorities and CCTV footages, she said.

The NCW member also questioned the overall working of the government in the case.

She said the report of the investigation conducted by her will be submitted to the Central Bureau of Investigation so that they could include these facts in the investigation.

Photo: Statesman News Service

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Parents Burn Fee-Booklet of Shimla’s Private School In Protest, Allege Govt Directions Made No Difference

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Parents Protest outside auckland house school shimla

Shimla-The written directions issued to all private schools running in Himachal Pradesh from the State Directorate of Higher Education on March 18, 2019, to review their unreasonable and hefty fee structures and reduce unnecessary charges has made no impact on any institution.

This is what the parents alleged on March 22, 2019, while protesting outside the Auckland House School in Shimla. The parents shouted slogans against the fleecing of private schools with unreasonable, hefty fees. They burnt a fee-booklet of the Auckland House School in protest.

Parents protest in Shimla against private schools

The parents have staged multiple protests during the last two to three weeks. The Directorate had to issue a fresh notification to private schools after the student-teacher forum gheraoed its office on March 14, 2019.  

The Directorate had asked the schools to cut down their fees to reasonable amounts, stop the sale of books and uniform in schools or pressurizing parents to purchase them from particular shops. The schools were told that they can’t make it mandatory for students to pay charges for tours/picnics. Further, the Directorate had warned schools of stringent action against if they failed to abide by the provisions of the Private Educational Institute (regulatory) Act, 1997, and Right of Children To Fee and Cumpulsory Education Act, 2009.

Directions Issued on 18 March 2019 by Edu Directorate

Fees-of-Private-Schools-in-Himachal-Pradesh

On Friday, however, the forum alleged that despite the notification issued by the Directorate, private schools did not pay any heed to its warning.  The schools still issued fee booklets without reviewing their fee structures.

The convener of the forum, Vijender Mehra, said that these schools not only ignored the notification but also committed contempt of the State High Court.

The forum has now warned the higher officials of the Education Directorate that if they did not ensure compliance to the court orders, FIRs would be filed personally against them.

The co-convener of the forum, Bindu Joshi, said the Directorate issued written directions to these schools only for the sake of formality. The Government is not showing any interest in the implementation of the Private Educational Institute (Regulatory) Act, 19997, and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, she said.

The forum is demanding the formation of a regulatory commission to stop the commercialization of education in the State.

The forum said its series of protests would continue until implementation of the directions issued by the Directorate is ensured.

The voices of protests can be heard in Himachal Pradesh time and again. However, it appears the parents, who are financially squeezed by private schools, wants to fight a final battle to make their unrest heard.

A couple of weeks ago, parents protest in Solan district had forced the St. Luke School, to cut down its fees to half. The student-parent forum is urging all parents to unite in the same way to put some check on the arbitrary working of private schools across the State.

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Video: On Duty Policemen Thrashed by Group of Miscreants in Shimla

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Youth clash with shimla police on holi

Shimla- Two policemen were reportedly injured after a dozen of miscreants clashed with them during Holi celebrations on the Ridge Shimla today.  The celebrations were foiled with violence and hurling of vulgar abuses. The scene was captured by a local on a mobile phone, and the video is being circulated on social media.  

As per the Shimla Police, today some people were celebrating the Holi at the Ridge Shimla. At about 12.15 PM, a group of some youth were spotted creating a ruckus, and when the policemen tried to stop them, they clashed with the police and beat them brutally. Two of the policemen were reportedly injured.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Pramod Shukla confirmed the report. The youths were said to be drunk.

As per initial reports, one of the accused was detained, while remaining accomplices fled the scene. There was no word on the identity of the culprits yet. The police said the rush on the Ridge made it difficult to identify them.

An FIR was filed at the Sadar Police Station under Sections 353,332,147,149 of the IPC for the assault and obstructing on-duty police officials. The police said further investigation is in progress.  

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UHF Nauni Station Becomes India’s ‘Lead Centre of Dahlia Testing’

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Dahlia in full bloom at RHRTS Dhaulakuan

Solan- As good news for the farmers of Himachal Pradesh engaged in floriculture, the Regional Horticulture Research and Training Station (RHRTS), Dhaulakuan of the Dr YS Parmar University and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, has been designated as the ‘Lead Centre of Dahlia Testing’ in the country.

As per the university, this is a big shot in the arm for Dahlia cultivation in the state as the flower has been introduced in Himachal for the first time under the project. The research conducted at the station could pave the way for its adoption by farmers for commercial cultivation.

The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FRA) of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare, GoI has given the prestigious national level designation to the research station.

The status of National level Lead entre of dahlia testing is a big achievement for the station as Dahlia is among the most admired winter flowering plant. It is a recognition of the work carried out at the research station and is expected to catalyze commercial cultivation of this flower in the state,

said Dr AK Joshi, Associate Director RHRTS, Dhaulakuan.

He added that several cultivars will be added to the present germplasm and farmers will be able to get rooted plants in the future. UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr HC Sharma and Director Research Dr JN Sharma congratulated the scientists.

The research station forayed into floriculture in 2012, mainly in ornamental plants, but has since made rapid strides in this area. In 2016-17, under a PPV&FRA funded project worth Rs. 18 lakh, over 50 cultivars of dahlia of different shapes, colours, sizes and categories were introduced at the station from different reliable nurseries and departments from Uttarakhand and adjoining areas.

Elaborating on the research, Dr Priyanka Thakur, Principal Floriculturist and main investigator of the project told that the objectives were the development of Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) testing guidelines of dahlia and evaluation of species/ cultivars. The morphological characterization, development of DUS testing guidelines and the establishment of DUS centre for dahlia at the station is presently underway.

The farmers of Himachal can adopt this new crop for cut flower as well as pot plant production, which can not only help in diversification but also boost the economy and raise farm incomes.

The newly introduced dahlia cultivars are suitable for pot plant production, borders, mass plantations and cut flowers etc. Cultivars like Matungini, Mother Teresa, Sister Nivedita, Tenzin, Suryadeva, Jishu, Gilody, SP Kamla have been found suitable for low hill conditions. Matungini, Jishu, Sohini, Black Eternity, Surya Deva, Maa Sharda have been found suitable for cut flower production.

Often called the ‘King of flowers’, Dahlia is grown both for indoor and outdoor elegance. The height of plants differs with variety and can vary from two-inch lollipop style pompoms to the giant 10-15 inch ‘dinner plate’ blooms growing to a height of 4-5 feet.

These cultivars remain in flowering from Feb to May. Farmers can reap rich dividends by selling cut flowers, pot and as landscape plants and through the production of rooted plants. The students of the university are also working on the evaluation of dahlia varieties for the low hill conditions of Himachal Pradesh.

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