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Manhandling of Chamba school staff gets communal color, leads to violence

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Chamba School Girl rape case

State unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad presented the case with a very different angle. The State President of VHP, Himachal, Aman Puri, in a media statement, claimed it a case of communal violence in which the teachers were assaulted by a specific group of people.

Shimla – After the riots in Kotkhai Tehsil of Shimla district over the rape and murder of a minor school girl, another case of alleged rape was reported on July 27 under Tissa Police Station in Churaah Subdivision of Chamba district. A teacher at a government school allegedly harassed a Class X student physically for over an year by threatening to fail her in the examination.

The teacher was immediately arrested after the victim’s father registered a FIR in the Tissa Police Station.The accused was booked under Section 4 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). As per departmental rules, the teacher was automatically suspended after he remained in police custody for over 24 hours.

On July 29, locals had gathered at the Khushnagar Senior Secondary School in the presence of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate.

People alleged that other teachers had prior knowledge regarding physical harassment of the minor girl but they didn’t act to prevent it either. Enraged over this fact, as per reports, the mob roughed up these colleagues of the accused teacher. The people were demanding transfer of the entire staff from the school.

The act of manhandling these teachers was criticized by teachers’ community on the ground that these teachers were not involved in the case. It was reported that a section of locals was enraged over manhandling of teachers.

The accused alleged of assaulting teachers have been arrested, informed the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Salooni, Mahinder Sigh Minhas.

However, by Sunday, as reported by local sources and administration, the matter was given a communal angle by some politically biased groups. Sources said these groups protested against the assault on the teachers, gheraoed the Tisa Police Station, pelted stones, and then went on a rampage. Some of them of vandalized the market and set ablaze about half-a-dozen shops/stalls and a PWD rain-shelter. The Deputy Commissioner, Chamba, Sudesh Mokhta said that a mob gheraoed the office of Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) at Tissa too.

On Monday, the State unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad came out openly in defense of the teachers and presented the case with a very different angle. The State President of VHP, Himachal, Aman Puri, in a media statement, claimed it a case of communal violence in which the teachers were assaulted by a specific group of people.

As per the sources including those in administration, the teacher was arrested and appropriate course of action is being followed. It was alleged that political interference was used to exploit emotionally charged mob.

The district administration has requested people to beware of communal rumors being spread in relations to the case with possible intentions of triggering riots.

It’s pertinent to mention that public in Himachal, especially in Shimla district is already in distress over an alleged botched-up police probe into barbaric crime in Kotkhai where a 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped and murdered between July 4 and 5. The public outrage had forced the State Government to order a probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which is still in progress. The Kotkhai Police Station was set on fire by an angry mob after killing of a Nepalese accused by his co-accused.

Now, in Chamba, as per the victim’s father, the girl went missing on the night of July 26. She was found in the fields by a local woman next morning. When inquired by the parents, the girl alleged the teacher had called her on phone and asked to come out of the house. He then, as per the victim’s statement, raped her in the fields.

As per the police complaint, the girl told her father that her teacher was blackmailing her since she was in Class X. As per reports, the girl had shifted to another school after passing Class X but the teacher continued to blackmail her. 

At the same time, political critics are condemning efforts of some specific political groups to create chaos by giving the case a communal angle. 

The Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has ordered probe into the matter and asked the administration to take action against those who vandalized the public property. 

Misc News/Press Release

Video: Fire Wreaks Havoc at Solan Mall Road

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Solan Fire Break out 2021

Solan-A fire broke out at the congested Solan Mall Road today evening, which engulfed about three shops including a medical store and garment and shoe shops. According to the initial report received from the district administration, the fire reportedly started from a medical store, which was closed.

People first noticed smoke rising from inside the building and informed the owner of the shop and fire services. By the time, fire tenders reached the spot, the fire had spread considerably to a large part of the multi-story building. Sounds of explosions from inside the medical store caused a panic among the adjoining shopping mall and people present on the scene. These sounds of explosions reportedly came from bottles of sanitisers and other flammables products kept inside the medical store.

No loss of life was reported.

According to a report, two fire hydrants installed at the Solan Mall Road for such emergency situation did not work, which led to delay in extinguishing the fire. Meanwhile, property worth lakhs in three to four shops turned to ash. It took over two hours to extinguish the fire with the help of locals. 

The Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Ajay Kumar, had arrived at the spot. The exact losses were yet to be assessed. It’s pertinent to mention that the Solan Mall is a congested place with a large number of shops and the fire could have easily turned into a bigger disaster if it were not controlled. 

The cause of the fire is believed to be a short-circuit. But it would be possible to cite the exact cause only after an inquiry, if conducted. More information was awaited.

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Himachal First State to Complete Assessment of Snow Leopard and its Wild Prey

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Snow Leopard Population Assessment in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-The assessment of snow leopard population in Himachal Pradesh has been completed by the state wildlife wing in collaboration with Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) Bangalore following the protocol aligning with the SPAI (Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India) protocols of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Himachal Pradesh has become the first state to complete assessment of snow leopard and its wild prey.

The state has an estimated population of up to 73 snow leopards.

It is the first scientifically robust estimate of snow leopards and its prey for the State. Since snow leopard is the state animal, the study assumes great significance for Himachal Pradesh.
The exercise revealed that snow leopard density ranged from 0.08 to 0.37 individuals per 100 sq.km., with the trans-Himalayan regions of Spiti, Pin valley and upper Kinnaur recording the highest densities, both of the predator and its prey, mainly ibex and blue sheep.

This study covered the entire potential snow leopard habitat of Himachal Pradesh: an area of 26,112 sq.km., utilising a stratified sampling design. Camera trapping surveys were conducted at 10 sites to representatively sample all the strata i.e. high, low and unknown. The camera trap deployment over the mountainous terrains was led by a team of eight local youth of Kibber village and more than 70 frontline staff of HPFD were trained in this technique as part of the project. Snow leopards were detected at all the 10 sites (Bhaga, Chandra, Bharmour, Kullu, Miyar, Pin, Baspa, Tabo, Hangrang & Spiti) suggesting that snow leopards are found in the entire snow leopard habitat in Himachal Pradesh either as resident individuals of a population or as dispersing individuals navigating through these connecting habitats.

Another revelation from the study is that a bulk of snow leopard occurrence is outside protected areas, reiterating the fact that local communities are the strongest allies for conservation in snow leopard landscapes.

The NCF and wildlife wing collaborated in the effort and it took three years to complete the assessment. MoEFCC had launched the First National Protocol on Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India, on the occasion of International Snow Leopard Day. You can read the complete protocol here.

Snow leopard is the icon of high mountains of Asia. In India, they inhabit the higher Himalayan and TransHimalayan landscape in an altitudinal range between approximately 3,000 m to 5,400 m above MSL, spanning c. 100,000 km2 in the five states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. This area contributes to about 5% of the global snow leopard range.

Snow leopards occur over a vast, relatively remote and difficult to access mountainous area. Together with their elusive nature, this makes a complete population census of snow leopards an unfeasible goal. Even their distribution remains unclear. For example, recent surveys show that they do not occur in 25 % of the area that was thought to be their range in the state of Himachal Pradesh Their density is expected to be variable in space, dependent on several factors such as habitat suitability, prey availability, disturbance and connectivity. Variation in density across space also poses the risk of biased sampling, and, indeed, most of the snow leopard population assessments conducted so far across the world are biased towards the best habitats.

Feature Photo: Pexels/Charles Miller

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Misc News/Press Release

Himachal Records 81% Turnout in 3rd Phase of PRI Polls, Congress Makes a Come Back in Theog MC after 20 Years

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third phase of Panchayat elections in himachal pradesh

Shimla-The third phase of elections to Panchayati Raj Institutes in Himachal Pradesh recorded around 81 percent polling on January 21, 2021. The elections were held in 1137 Gram Panchayats in this phase. The highest 94 percent polling was registered in Lodhi Majra Panchayat of Nalagarh development block in Solan district. This information was released by a spokesperson of HP Election Commission

District-wise, Sirmaur recorded 85% turnout, followed by Solan (85%) Kullu (84%),Chamba (82.8%), Mandi (82.7%), Una (81.1%), Shimla (82%),Una (81%), Bilaspur (80.3%), Hamirpur (78.1%), Kangra (78%), and Kinnaur (70%).

 Further, 48 COVID-19 patients and persons in isolation also cast their votes.

The Spokesperson said that the poll was held peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident in the state.

Counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on January 22, 2021, at block headquarters.

Congress made a come back to Theog Municipal Council after 20 years. While Vivek Thapar was elected as the Chairman of the MC, Reen Roy was elected as the Vice-Chairman. Congress has already registered wins in Rohru and Rampur MCs and Chopal, Kotkhai and Sunni Nagar panchayats.

Theog MC Polls 2021

Congress After Registering Victory in Theog MC Elections

The HPCC chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore, while speaking to media persons yesterday, said that of the total seven Wards of the Theog MC, Congress has claimed victory on four wards while remaining three Wards went to independent candidates. Congress alleged that BJP had left no stone unturned to pressurize, lure, and threaten elected members to gain their support. 

Rathore mocked at the defeat of BJP MP’s bother in Mandi district. Further, the candidate in Ghumarwin of Bilaspur – home district of BJP Chief Jagat Prakash Nadda-  had also faced defeat, Rathore said. BJP candidate in Sujanpur – home to Union Minister for State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur-could also not register a victory and lost, he said.

Congress also registered a victory in elections to Parwanoo MC. Kuldeep Singh Rathore, said that winning candidate Nisha Sharma joined Congress yesterday. She had won twice from the same Ward on BJP ticket. This time, she was denied ticket and fought the elections as an independent candidate. 

Parwanoo Counciloor Nisha sharma

Nisha Sharma Joins Congress

Rathore alleged that the government has been trying to threaten Nisha by registering a fake case of illegal construction. Similarly, husband of Chandrawati – another Congress councilor in Parwanoo- who runs a depot was fined wrongfully yesterday, Rathore alleged.   

While BJP has been making claims of victory on the majority of seats, Congress had been terming it as a bluff.  Also, it had been alleging BJP of misusing government machinery. Independent candidates are being bought and allurements are being given to winning Congress candidates, Rathore alleged.  

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