Kotkhai Row: Congress Govt cornered, BJP demands CM & DGP’s resignation after arrest of police officials
Shimla: The Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is completely cornered by the oppositions over alleged conspiracy in the investigation conducted by Himachal Pradesh Police in the gangrape and murder of a minor girl in Kotkhai, Shimla district.
Entire Himachal is now wondering how the State Police has left states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh behind in terms of lawlessness with this single leap.
The Chief Minister, right from the beginning, whole heartedly supported the investigation conducted by the State Police SIT formed under Inspector General of Police, Zahur H Zaidi.
He had refused having any knowledge regarding the posting of four photos on his official Facebook page, which were deleted after few minutes of posting. His IT Cell had claimed it to be a technical glitch. These photos had vent viral and deepened the doubts of people.
He was also criticised for insensitive remark over this gruesome crime after he said such kind of incidents keep happening in society.
The Chief Minister had also remarked “CBI is not God” and that the state police was equally competent in investigating this crime and deliver justice to the victim. He consistently maintained the state police have done a remarkable job by nabbing all accused within a few days.
While addressing a public gathering in Padhar, Mandi, in July, he said the issue was being given hype to gain political benefits ahead of upcoming HP Assembly polls.
A day before the police officials were arrested, the Chief Minister had tapped the back of State police in relation to this investigation. In a statement given to a Hindi daily during an interview, he had said the state police did an admirable job, but opposition created all the rucksack.
The aggressive protests and violence in Kotkhai after custodial death of Suraj was only a political vendetta to defame the government ahead of assembly polls, had said the Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister was forced to order a CBI inquiry only after these protests begun to take aggressive form. A day after HP Police claimed to had solved the case in a press conference held on July 13, angry locals in Theog had roughed up the police staff including then Superintendent Police of Shimla, DW Negi.
No one except the State government and police believed the case was solved and all real culprits were arrested. From parents to locals, majority suspected conspiracy and manipulation of true facts in the investigation.
However, after eight police officials were arrested by the CBI in relation to the alleged murder of a Nepalese accused at the Kotkhai Police Station, the state government came under fire.
On August 30, Gudiya Nyay Manch had staged an aggressive protest in front of the Police Headquarters in Shimla. They demanded the removal of the Director General of the State Police.
Now the forensic reports of the DNA tests conducted on samples taken from the all six arrested accused were also reported to be negative. None of the samples matched with the samples collected from the crime scene, said sources.
Oppositions (BJP and CPIM) are now demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister and the DGP over complete failure in the investigation of the case. Oppositions are alleging the government is directly involved in shielding the real culprits. BJP staged a protest on August 31 too, and said it will continue to protest until these two don’t resign and President rule isn’t imposed till assembly polls.
Following the arrests of police officials, BJP MP Shanta Kumar said it was a blot on the state. BJP MP Anurag Thakur also questioned the credibility of state government and functioning of its police.
Former Chief Minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal, while addressing media-persons at Bangan on August 30, said the arrests have proved that the government was trying to shield the culprits and facts related to the investigation.
Not just political parties are protesting, but the common people are also shocked with these developments in the case. The distress in pubic is again aggravating as the CBI investigation is picking up momentum.
It would be a dark chapter in the history of Himachal Pradesh and a blot on the Indian Police if police department was proved guilty.
The common people, especially the poor will have no reason to believe they are safe or their right to justice is safe. Of arrested six accused, five were from poor families. Two of them were Nepalese laborers who worked in orchards of a local.
The next hearing is scheduled for September 6, 2017. The current course of investigation suggests huge damage to the credibility of the Congress government ahead of assembly polls.
HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government employees working in different departments before January 3, 2022, would be given a higher scale at par with other employees on completion of two years tenure of regular service. A higher pay scale was also announced for the Junior Office Assistants (IT) on completion of two years of regular service.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur made these announcements during the Karamchari Maha Sammelan of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation at the hotel Peterhof on Sunday.
He appreciated the role played by the employee especially frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic.
He said most of the government employees in the state have been given revised pay scales and on average, every employee has got the benefit of a 12 to 15 percent salary hike. There has also been an increase in the pension of about 1.50 lakh pensioners of the state. The financial benefits of Rs. 7801 crore have been given to state government employees and pensioners from the year 2018 to 2022. The pensioners who retired before 2016 are getting the benefit of a 15 to 20 percent increase in the pension while around 40 thousand pensioners who retired after 2016 would be benefitted soon, he said.
He said the daily wages were Rs. 210 in the year 2017 which has been increased by the present state government to Rs. 350. Similarly, 12 per cent interim relief annually has been provided to government employees and pensioners during the present government’s tenure. He said the Himachal government has provided Dearness Allowance to its employees and pensioners on the lines of Punjab and Central governments from the due date. The Punjab government has given only 5 percent interim relief to the employees while the Himachal government has provided 21 percent interim relief to its employees.
“Out of the total interim relief amount given to the employees and pensioners amounting to about Rs. 6500 crore, Rs. 3500 crore has been paid during the tenure of our government” added the Chief Minister.
He said that the state government has increased the government contribution for NPS employees from 10 percent to 14 percent benefitting more than one lakh employees. The NPS employees are being given the benefits of retirement and death gratuity at par with employees falling under the old pension scheme. The government has also increased the upper limit of death gratuity from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
The Chief Minister said the state government has also increased the honorarium of para-workers working in various departments. The salary of outsource workers has been hiked by Rs 1,500 per month.
Non-Gazetted Employees Federation President Ashwani Thakur thanked the Chief Minister for providing various financial and other benefits to different categories of government employees.
Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue
New Delhi-The Centre has issued a notification to the States informing that the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31. The Union Health Ministry said that the use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue.
It implies that most of the Covid-related rules and restrictions would end.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the notification which said that the decision was taken following the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.
The DM Act was invoked on March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic
“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the notification said.
“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at a local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the notification said.
The Indian government had issued various guidelines and measures for the first time on March 24, 2020, under the Disaster Management Act to curb the COVID-19 situation in the country, which have been modified several times thereafter.
India currently has 23,087 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 1,778 new cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has also declined to 0.28%.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Country Liquor Made Cheaper in New Excise Policy, Read All Decisions
Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on March 20, 2022, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The excise policy for the financial year 2022-23 was approved. Approval was also given for the renewal of retail excise vends in the state for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend.
The State Government said that wants to enhance the government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.
The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees have been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers.
In the new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. According to the government, this step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure the supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of the existing price.
In this year’s policy, the Gaudhan Vikas Nidhi Fund has been enhanced by Re.1/- from the existing Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50.
The fixed annual license fee of Bars has been rationalized by abolishing the area-specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State, there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.
Rates of the annual fixed license fee of Bars in the tribal areas has been reduced considerably.
Further, all the above stakeholders will have to install CCTV cameras at their establishments as it was made mandatory for them.
Wholesale vends and retail vends, the penalty provisions under the H.P. Excise Act, 2011 have been made more stringent.
An end to end online Excise Administration System would be established in Himachal Pradesh, the government said.
HP Government estimates a collection of Rs 2131 crore revenue during the year, which will be Rs. 264 crores higher than the financial year 2021-22 – growth of 14% in state excise revenues.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to amend Himachal Pradesh Disaster Relief Manual-2012 to include deaths due to biting of honey bees, hornet and wasps, accidental drowning and deaths due to accidents of vehicles (including land, water and air) under this Manual.
The Cabinet gave its approval for filling up 11 posts of ‘A’ Class Tehsildar in Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission.
HP State Toll Policy 2022-23
The HP Cabinet also gave its nod to HP State Toll Policy for the year 2022-23 which envisages auction cum tender for all the toll barriers in the State. During the year 2021-22, toll revenue has registered a growth of 20 percent of the previous year’s revenue.