Mandi: The probe into the mysterious death of forest guard Hoshiar Singh in Seri-Katanda beat of the Karsog division, Mandi district was complete for the Himachal Pradesh Police and the State Crime Investigation Department (CID). However, the police has failed to convince the State High Court that a fair probe was conducted and it was indeed a case of suicide.
A division bench comprising of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma has eventually ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to unearth the truth.
If the police probe was found fraudulent, more police officials would be joining ex-Inspector General of Police, Zahur H Zaidi, and seven other police officials, who were arrested by CBI on August 29 over the alleged custodial killing of Suraj Singh – one of the accused in the Kotkhai rape and murder case.
The court had taken suo motu cognizance of the case on June 20 after public outrage in Karsog region that was spreading to other parts of the state. People have even formed a dedicated platform, Siraj Manch, under which several protest rallies were organized. The Manch and the relatives of late Hoshiar Singh had been demanding a CBI probe as they did not trust the local police and the government.
The CID and police had been investigating the case for over 100 days since the discovery of the body of the deceased guard on June 10, 2017. The guard was missing since June 5.
It is pertinent to mention that CID and police claim to have completed the probe in which it was established that Hoshiar had committed suicide as an insecticide containing Chlorpyrifos and Cypermethrin was found in his body.
Six people including forest officials were arrested based on the information extracted from two pieces of paper and a diary. As per police, these papers were suicide notes. In these notes, Hoshiar had made stunning revelation regarding a strong nexus of the forest department with forest mafia.
The forensics confirmed that the handwriting matched with that of Hoshiar.
Four more people of the same family were arrested in August based on the videos and photographs recovered from Hoshiar’s mobile phone.
However, the amicus curiae appointed by the state High Court raised several questions and pointed out serious loopholes in the probe. The probe did not explain why the body was hanging upside down from a tree in a half-naked condition and whether the poison was self-administered or Hoshiyar was forced to consume it.
However, without investigating the facts related to administration of poison, police had told the court that it was a case of suicide.
The amicus had questioned the police that the guard had reportedly consumed rice, cereals, and salad at the house of a TGT teacher on July 5. As per postmortem report issued on July 10, these components were found undigested on the day of postmortem. Normally, the human body takes five to six hours in order to digest a meal.
Hence, the probe could not establish the accurate day and time of the death of the deceased, which is very crucial to the investigation, had said the Amicus.
The court had asked the police to convince it why the case should not be given to CBI for a probe. The agency was given ample time, but it failed to convince the court as several questions were still unanswered.
At the same time, the state forest department is also under the scanner for its inaction despite discovering evident proofs of illegal felling of the trees in the Karsog division. The department had conducted an internal inquiry and recovered hundreds of stumps and wood of illegally felled trees.
Questions were raised in court as to why the department did not make any progress in internal inquiry despite solid evidences against its officials.
The state government is allegedly evading action against the officials of the department for the fear that the allegations labeled by people and the oppositions will be proved right in that case. The polls for the state legislative assembly are hardly two months away and the state government is already facing public wrath in the Kotkhai rape and murder case.
The state government has been maintaining that the state police and CID are capable of conducting a fair probe in the case. However, the transfer of the case to the CBI had come as huge blow to the credibility of the state law enforcement agencies.
People are now hopeful that Hoshiar will now get justice.
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.