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Chamba school row: Hiding among protesting people, hooligans aim communal violence

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Chamba – In Devbhoomi, Himachal Pradesh, it is believed that humanity is still alive among its people. Here society is more likely to see the victims of rapes or crimes against women as humans first. People have always been thankful that at least the politicians in Devbhoomi aren’t evil enough to fuel the communal fire in their own State for political benefits. 

However, the current situation in Chamba has forced the society to again contemplate over the entry of such evils in Himachal’s political arena. 

The case of alleged rape of a minor girl by a teacher in the Tissa region of Churaah subdivision of Chamba district, Himachal Pradesh, has taken an entirely different turn. The rape, justice for the victim or the arrest of the accused isn’t the issues here. The accused was arrested immediately after a FIR was filed by the victim’s father on July 27 and send on judicial remand.

Despite that, the tension aggravated on Monday as a protesting mob pelted stones on the police force in which the ADM and about 15 policemen including the Additional Superintendent of Police sustained serious injuries. The injured were taken to the Tissa hospital for treatment. As per the administration, the hooligans in the mob had again started to vandalize the shops belonging to the minority population and the police had to resort to cane-charge and use tear-gas to disperse the mob.

The fault of the police force here was that it tried to stop the entry of the mob into an area dominated by the Muslim population. As per the district administration, the hooligans in the mob would have definitely fueled the communal tension if they were not stopped.

However, this protesting mob of locals isn’t entirely involved in violence, said sources. As per local sources, the teachers’ community and some locals are protesting against the manhandling of school staff at the Government Senior Secondary School Khushnagari on July 29.

Unfortunately, the current case of alleged rape appeared in an area that has significant Muslim population and the victim belonged to a Muslim family. It created an opportunity for hooligans to introduce communal fire using the region as ammunition. 

On Saturday, after receiving the news of the rape of a student by a teacher, the angry locals had gathered at the school to meet the teachers. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) was also present on the scene. 

The eyewitnesses said these teachers were absent on the day of the meeting and anger among people grew over this fact, reported the sources. The SDM had to call the teachers and ask them to reach the school. However, the verbal spat between locals and school staff spoiled the entire situation by then.

As per the administration, some alleged miscreants reportedly associated the matter with the Congress leader and Haj panel Chief, Dildar Ali Bhat. It was alleged that Dildar provoked his people to manhandle the teachers. Now, the protesters are demanding the removal of Dildar.

However, eyewitnesses and local sources reported that SDM had called Dildar suggesting him to come at the spot to keep the people calm in case things go wrong. The victim girl had alleged that she had brought her situation to the attention of some teachers too, but they didn’t act either to prevent the sexual assaults on her.

 

When these teachers arrived, the angry locals roughed-up them too. Sources said, the principal of the school also came in spate along with female school staff.

While Dildar was alleged of instigating the people to assault teachers, some other eyewitnesses said it was not so. As per these eyewitnesses, Dildar and the SDM had interfered to control the situation and stop the locals from beating the teachers.

The local sources also reported the existence of old political grudges between the Dildar and other political personalities of the area.

From that moment, the case took a different turn, and, as per sources, there appeared strong efforts to trigger communal violence under the cover of protesting mob. Violence was reported on Sunday in which several shops and a rain-shelter was set ablaze by the mob.

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 people of the minority group.

At the night, said a local, some hooligans were trying to instigate minority population by raising communal slogans.

Some blogs and social media pages too started reporting the news based on unconfirmed reports and rumors. One of the blogs even went on to claim it an attack by the Haj Committee.

himachal communal violence rumors
In fact, the administration and police were aware of the sensitivity of the situation and had already arrested four persons involved in the manhandling the teachers.

Who is exactly behind manipulating the issue?

The Chief Minister Virbhadra is alleging RSS and BJP for introducing the communal angle into the case ahead of the Assembly polls. The leader of the opposition, Prem Kumar Dhumal, have denied any role in introducing communal angle into protests in Tissa.

Instead, BJP has put the entire blame on the Congress Government as it criticised the deterioration of law and order.

There is no history of communal violence in the area and both communities have shared friendly social relations.

In that case, the unidentified hooligans have taken their positions in the protesting mob. In an angry mob, the man who pelts a stone first matters the most. Stone pelting will leave the administration and the police with no option but to resort to using force. Once the police use force to disperse the mob, more people join stone-pelting within no time.

This will create a perfect opportunity for hooligans to go on a rampage and set ablaze shops and public property.

Though the administration claims the situation to be under control, people are advised to be critical of rumors appearing on social media and blogs.

Photos: 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 7 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 world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Ruling Govt taking cover of Congress misdeeds to justify Karnataka episode

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https://himachalwatcher.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Karnatak-governor-decision.jpg

Shimla: Congress party in Himachal Pradesh today staged a protest against the capricious decision of the Governor of Karnataka, Vajubhai Vala, to invite Bhartiya Janata Party to form Government despite the written statement of Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) alliance claiming a clear majority. It has created a constitutional controversy.

If that was not enough, Yeddyurappa swore as the Chief Minister without proving a majority and had even announced waiver of all farm loans of up to Rs 100,000. Governor even appointed the BJP’s K G Bopaiah as pro-tem speaker.

This action of Governor has shattered the belief of those who honoured the constitution and political ethics.

A valid point that the Congress has raised here is that the ruling government did not play by the same rule in Manipur elections. In the 2017 elections, Congress won 28 seats in the 60 member House, BJP had managed to win 21 seats. However, governor Najma Heptulla invited the BJP leaders to form the government and denied Congress a chance to form the ministry.

What’s the biggest security a common man has in a democracy like India? It’s the constitution. This single weapon can set the entire country back on track if the people knew how to use it.

Anyway, politicians are taking care of it for you now. The ruling government has just over-rode the constitution, which is going unnoticed because the majority of the public has no idea about the business going on at the top level of governance.

In the present case, the Supreme Court of India intervened and overruled Governor Vajubhai and asked B S Yeddyurappa to prove his majority in the assembly at 4 pm on Saturday. Otherwise, the Governor had given BJP 15 days for horse trading. The Supreme Court only followed the constitution. The court has also proved the decision was unconstitutional.

It is not that opposition parties have always played fair, but the ruling party is taking unfairness to the next level.

There are only three ways in which BJP can form a government in Karnataka: by convincing elected lawmakers of Congress or JD (S) to resign or make them disappear today before floor test or create defection through horse-trading. Sadly, the Governor listened to the high-command and opted to be part of this game.

Another ironical fact is that BJP is trying to counter the resistance to its game plan by referring to Congress’s decades-old controversial decisions like the emergency imposed in 1975 and taking down BJP governments in four states including Himachal using tactics of defection. This is what the Spokesperson of BJP in Himachal, Shashi Datt Sharma said in a press statement on Friday.

The BJP followers are saying that the party is taking revenge from Congress.

Sharma alleged that Congress has always used politics of repression and at the same time the party is adopting the same tactic.

Why is the ruling government criticising as well adopting the same tactics at the same time? Why take the shield of bad deeds of past governments to justify own misdoings? What would be the difference between two parties then? Why is the public ok with it?

This trend of over-riding the constitution will take a toll on the public. No one is supposed to be above the constitution in India. However, this seems no more a rule of the political game.

One should wonder who will protect honest RTI activists, journalists, judges, or anyone resisting against government’s dictatorship when the constitution mo more has their back.

But, for now, no one is even close to understanding why they should be scared about it.

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Findings of magisterial probe into Nurpur Tragedy exposes HPPWD’s blunder

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Probe report of Nurpur school bus accident

Kangra: The Additional District Magistrate (ADM) has completed the magisterial probe ordered into the school bus accident in Nurpur on April 9, 2018, and submitted the report to the Deputy Commissioner.   

The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur-led State Government had ordered the inquiry after unrest broke out among the people following the tragedy, which caused loss of 28 people including 24 children.  While 23 had died on the spot, one succumbed to injuries a few days later at a hospital. 

While Hindi and English Dailies told an altogether different story related to the report of the magisterial probe, a Government spokesperson today made some of the original findings public.   

Findings of the magisterial probe into Nurpur School Bus Mishap

1.   The driver was never challaned/charged even once for the offence of over speeding, drunken driving and rash driving. 
2.   The accident did not seem to happen due to any mechanical failure.
3.   The site of the accident was a black spot with loose soil and damaged edges abutting a landslide zone with cliff and did not have any crash barriers and the road formed sort of craters.
4.   The bus should have been on the left-hand side but due to the absence of eyewitnesses, it couldn’t be ascertained how and why the bus went to the right side of the road.
5.   As per a survivor, a 10-year-old, who was sitting on the right side window seat, divulged that a motorcyclist came from opposite direction after which the bus rolled down
6.   Since there was no eyewitness of the accident,  it is believed that just to save the motorcyclist, the driver, in a reflex action,  had negotiated the bus to the right-hand side, misjudging the space on the right-hand side road. He could not have been able to control the bus which had reluctantly rolled down. 
7.   The accident has occurred under unverifiable circumstances. The road was straight, not sloping up or down 
8.   The driver was never seen driving bus in a rash manner and reported to be a mature person
9.   The road on this point is in very poor condition, uneven and forming fatal craters. The edges of the road on this spot are badly broken supported/reinforced with no crash barriers/parapet.

 

What caused misreporting?

Surprisingly, the Dailies reported that the inquiry found a human error on the part of the driver Madan Lal (67).  These reports further said the driver was looking back as children were making noise or suggested that the driver might have dosed-off on a duty, which is not hectic in nature and includes boarding-off children after every 10 minutes.

The road was tip-top and was not in poor condition, these reports said.  It is not clear who fed the media this story.

However, the findings of the report have made it clear that the Public Works Department shares the responsibility for the massacre.

That’s why the government has haphazardly tarred the patch of over one kilometre and constructed new parapets on the spot from where the bus had skid-off the road.

Now, the PWD is also installing crash barriers too.

magisterial probe report in Nurpur Bus accident

Photos: Amar Ujala

Take a look at the two pictures. One of them was taken on the day of the accident and the second one clicked recently and published in the Hindi Daily Amar Ujala in its May 9, 2018, edition. The picture speaks itself. 

At the same time, the parents, based on the said media reports, questioned the findings and demanded a separate, most preferably a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The shattered parents of the 24 children including some who had joined the school a day ago killed in the perhaps one of the most tragic and heart-breaking road accident in Himachal Pradesh.

Most of the kids aged between five years to 10 years and some families lost more than one child, which was the worst part of it. It is too early for children of this age to die a horrible death, which cannot be called an accident in a literal sense.

The mass cremation of small pyres weighed heavy on everyone who keeps a heart.

However, it is to be seen whether the State Government would take a action this time or will opt to save the skin of responsible bureaucrats and just move on like the governments have been doing in previous cases. 

If the Government would not deliver justice to the victims of this massacre by taking action this time, there would be more such tragedies.

In fact, the reason the people keep dying in road accidents or due to jaundice outbreaks is that no action is ever taken against the responsible government officials, especially the bureaucrats.

In case the Government chose to patronize the sinful officials, the public must not remain silent this time.  

We believe the mass cremation of small pyres is too heavy to be overlooked for anyone who keeps a heart.   

Top Photos: Amar Ujala

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Amid Shimla city’s water-crisis, MC alleged of putting people on hold for Hotels, VIP areas under central zone

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Shimla city's water crisis

Shimla: Amid Shimla Municipal Corporation’s poor response to acute water crises in the city, the allegations have appeared that the VIP areas and hotels under the central zone are being given priority in the distribution of water. The tanks in VIP areas and hotels were full while the commoners were put on hold for them.

Opposed to equal distribution of the available supply, on Tuesday, as per the May 09, 2018, edition of a Hindi Daily and other media reports, the SMC supplied water to localities under central zone like the Mall Road, Ridge, Lower Bazaar, Ram Bazaar, Middle Bazaar, and some areas of Sanjauli. The reports alleged that these areas house majority of hotels, VIP residents, and officials.

Even BJP’s own Ward Councilors are now feeling agitated over the poor management of the SMC under the command of new Mayor. The people are questioning whether the Mayor and Deputy Mayor possess enough knowledge about managing a city with 1.70 lakh population?  

However, these Councilors are not able to muster enough courage to criticize their own party.  

The manifesto of the Bhartiya Janata Party for the SMC elections in 2017 had promised betterment in the water supply. It was one of the most important agenda before the elections.  

However, the situation has become so ugly that public toilets in the city were locked as there was no water for cleaning.  The government, as well as private offices, are also bearing the brunt of SMC’s miss-management.

For last two weeks, the people have no option but to buy water even for drinking. The SMC is receiving over 50 calls per day seeking supply through water-tankers.

The peak tourist season has begun on a bad note for Shimla. The hospitality industry is also surviving on either SMC’s alleged favouritism or through private tankers.

Betterment of Water-Supply in BJP’s Manifesto for SMC Elections  

The party had promised in the manifesto that the leakage in the main pipelines of the water supply schemes would be fixed to improve water supply. Natural resources would be cleaned and used to supplement the main water supply. The BJP has promised to cut water-bills and that the water would be lifted from Kol Dam to fulfil the demand of water in the city.

Unfortunately, a large amount of water is either wasted due to leakage in pipelines that awaits repair and water-tanks in the city including those of residential, commercial and government buildings. The water-tanks of the SMC can still be seen overflowing.

The State High Court has also noted that either water is waste in leakage in supply pipelines or being stolen through illegal connections. 

The supply to the city has dropped down to 23 – 27 MLD per day against the demand of about 45 MLD per day.  About 10 MLD is wasted due to the leakage.  In times of water-crisis, there is no effort to encourage people to not overlook leakages in their tanks or pipelines.

Rainwater harvesting is not even in the SMC books. 

The SMC has faced water crises earlier too, however,  but nothing was learnt to deal with water-shortage in future. Moreover, the formation of Shimla Jal Prabandhan Nigam Limited (SJPNL) will take its time.     

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