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Yes, mafias active & crime on rise in Himachal, are BJP ruled states doing any better?

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Hp assembly elections 2017

Shimla: On Thursday, the star campaigner of the Bhartiya Janata Party for the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly Elections 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressed a rally in Kangra district.

He said Himachal has become a land of mafias. There are five types of mafia in the state – forest mafia, mining mafia, drug mafia, tender mafia and transfer mafia.

He said the BJP would end all these mafias and eradicate corruption. Other campaigners like BJP chief Amit Shah and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath are consistently targeting the State Congress over the corruption charges against the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his family.

Here, it is necessary to question the basis on which the BJP wants the people to trust on their promises. The simplest way is to compare BJP-ruled states with Himachal.

The safety of women is another major issue that the BJP is pitching repeatedly.The crimes against women are rising in Himachal, says BJP campaigner.

There are valid points in these allegations. The mafias are active and corruption is also evident from the condition of the public infrastructure like roads.

The Chief Minister had himself rebuked the Public Works Department for its nexus with the private contractors.

Over two dozen people had died and thousands of others were inflicted by the deadly jaundice outbreak in 2016. The reason was that the contractor was releasing untreated sewerage from the treatment plant. The plant was barely working despite receiving about 1.30 crores per year.

Shimla city suffered critical water-shortage just because the government did not maintain the supply pipes and a huge amount was lost in leakage only.

The solid waste management is in tatters. All major towns are grappling with mounting heaps of garbage. Shimla city witnessed no improvement in the working of the sanitation workers despite change in the power after MC elections held this year.

The horrific case of gangrape and murder of a 16-years-old girl in Kotkhai in July this year and the mysterious death of the forest guard Hoshiyar Singh in Karsog division in June raised the alarm over increasing corruption.

The shoddy probe conducted by the HP Police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) and arrest of eight police officials including the Inspector General Zaidi put the faith of people in the government at stake.

It is true that these evils have taken larger forms in Himachal.

For instance, the sitting Congress MLA of Bilaspur Bambar Singh Thakur allegedly thrashed the DFO over encroachment on forest land. A few months later, he was heard allegedly insulting and threatening a senior doctor posted at the district hospital.

The MLA allegedly wanted the doctor to make manipulations in a disability certificate to please one of his supporters. A transfer to remote and tribal area was the ultimate threat that the MLA was allegedly using.

The General Secretary of HP Congress Committee, Ram Lal Thakur, had alleged him of carrying out illegal businesses including mining. Ram Lal had also demanded a CBI inquiry against Bambar Thakur. 

The transfer of the young IPS Officer Gaurav Singh, also called Baddi’s Singham, verified increasing influence of the mining mafia and involvement of politicians and MLAs in patorinizing them.

The BJP has promised to eradicate this corruption and make the State a better place. However, on what basis the BJP is making these claims? Did the crime rate drop down in BJP-ruled states? Did crime against women witness any decline in these states?

A report published by the Fact Catcher in February 2017 said that the BJP-ruled states have higher rates. The report had also alleged that the BJP was trying to manipulate crime related data of Uttar Pradesh.

Crime rate in BJP ruled states

Courtesy: Fact Check

It does not make the Congress or Samajvadi Party any better.

The communalism already existed in the Indian society and the politicians had been making full of it.

However, during the three-year reign of the BJP communalism and religion have again come into lime-light upto such an extent that people were lynched by mobs. Now, the cows holds more value than human lives. 

On the other hand, the big promises made by the Congress in its manifesto prove that the government employees are indeed the deciding vote-bank in Himachal. Transfer near home or to their desired region is one of the biggest temptations for the employees.

Transfer has always been the best way to deal with honest employees or those belonging to opposition.

The details of income and assets given in their affidavits filed by the contesting candidates of both major parties, the infighting for the tickets and shifting loyalty by swapping parties tell us that they are after power and wealth.

Why should we believe the BJP, Congress or any other parties when they are more or less the same behind the curtains?

As a matter of fact, HP BJP leaders in February had submitted a chargesheet with the office of the Governor. The party had level serious allegations against as much as 41 persons including the Congress MLAs, Ministers, Bureaucrats etc. 

Anil Sharma, ex-minister, was also in this list. However, now BJP has inducted him and has forgotten the chargesheet.  

Rest, the public had given PK Dhumal two chances to prove it is better than Congress. The point is to make these facts count on the polling day.

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.

Misc News/Press Release

BJP Govt in Himachal faces criticism due to misunderstanding over a clarification

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Non-Himachali govt employees can buy land in Himachal

Shimla: Recently, after a clarification was issued by the Himachal Pradesh Revenue Department to the Deputy Commissioner of Kangra district regarding Section 38-A of Section 118 of the HP Tenancy & Land Reforms Act stirred a controversy. The clarification said children of non-Himachali employees of the State government can also buy upto 500 square metres of land in the State for building a house.

The ruling government led by the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur faced severe criticism with allegations of ‘selling land to non-Himachali people for a non-agricultural purpose’. The same clarification was issued earlier in July too, but that did not catch the attention of the media or the people.

It was repeated in August and this time it did rounds of social media. The Chief Minister yielded to the mounting criticism and withdrew clarification issued.

However, the original provision was actually introduced by the previous government through an amendment. The current government was just extending this provision to other family members of the eligible employees. However, only one member of the family was allowed to apply under Section 118 of the said Act.  Moreover, there was no exemption from the Section 118. The candidates were still required to apply under the Act to obtain permission.  

In July 2014, the then ruling government led by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had embedded provisions in Rule 38- A of Section 118 of the said Act through an amendment. It was called the ‘Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms (Amendment) Rules, 2014’. The amendment was mostly related making it easier for non-Himachali for setting up industrial units in the state.

The amended Act in its sub-section 3 of the Rule 38-A along with other points said,

“A person working in the state for more than 30 years recommended by the concerned local body ( DC) for grant of permission” can buy a land upto 500 square metres for constructing a residential building.

Read A Notification of the Revenue Department Issued in Sept 2014:

Similarly, a person who fulfils the above-mentioned eligibility can also purchase land up to 300 square metres for construction of a shop.

The previous Congress government and several petitioners had been reaching the court time to time terming the provision to ban non-agriculturists and non-Himachali’s from buying land in the State as a violation of the “Articles 14, 15, 19 (e) and (g) of the Constitution. Section 19 (e) of the constitution says that an Indian citizen has the constitutional right to reside anywhere in the country as per his wish.

In June 2016, the Chief of HP Congress, Sukhwinder Sukku, had also supported the need to amend the Act on similar grounds.

The petitioners argued that this rule is also creating hindrances in developmental activities in the State. It was claimed that even non-agriculturist Himachali people were also barred from buying land for any purpose other than agriculture which was unfair.  

The Act was amended multiple times since its adoption and the current government is also in favour of making amendments in the Act to relax conditions for acquiring land in the State. The government believes the dilution of this Section would make it easier to invite more investments, thus, help in the growth of the economy.

Moreover, acting on these petitions, in September 2016, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had even directed the state government to make suitable amendments in rules to facilitate the purchase of land, both agriculture and non-agriculture, by non- agriculturist Himachalis.

This court deems it fit and proper to direct the state government to make suitable amendments to Section 118 of the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972 read with HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Rules, 1975 in order to facilitate to purchase any land (agricultural and non-agricultural) in the state by non-agriculturist Himachalis residing in the state for decades, prior to the date of commencement of the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972, within a period of 90 days from today,

a division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Sureshwar Thakur said.

At the same time, the people of the State and social organizations have always been against any dilution of Section 118 of the Act, which was passed in 1972 to check to sell of agricultural land to wealthy non-Himachalis by the poorer agrarian community. The government feared the trend would lead the native farmers landless and the economy of the state would also be affected as the majority of the population was dependent on agriculture and horticulture for livelihood.

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Congress wants CM Jai Ram Thakur to do what it couldn’t do during its own tenure

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sukku meets cm jairam thakur

Shimla: With the elections of 2019 nearing, growing drug and substance abuse among the youth of Himachal Pradesh (HP) has begun to become visible as a matter of great concern to the leaders of the Indian National Congress (INC). They want the new government to include the provision of more stringent laws against the drug peddlers. Unable to do much about it during the tenure of Congress, its leaders including Mukesh Agnihotri are now seeking action from Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur-led government of Bhartiya Janata Party.

Congress said it supports the government in matters related to the formation of stringent laws against drug mafia.

Congress expects the government to enact new laws in the monsoon session of the HP Legislative Assembly.

On August 20, Mukesh Agnihotri, the leader of the opposition, in a media statement said he wants the ruling government to make provision of capital punishment for drug peddlers and make peddling of synthetic drugs a non-bailable crime. He adored the recent decision of the government to conduct a joint meeting with seven neighbouring states. He also supported the proposal the Chief Minister had made in the meeting regarding the introduction of a mechanism for a regular medical checkup of the students to diagnose for symptoms of drug addiction or substance abuse.

The loopholes in the Narcotic Drugs & Psychoactive Substance (ND&PS), 1985, which were not visible to the leader of the opposition during the tenure of the INC, have now become conceivable. He pointed out that there is a provision of bail for Heroin (Chitta) offenders caught with a quantity up to five grams. He wants the new government to make the offence of peddling synthetic drugs non-bailable.

He made the new government aware of the fact that youth of the state is heading right towards the jaws of synthetic drug addiction.

Another group of Congress leaders led by the President of the HP Congress Committee and sitting MLA of Naduan, Sukhwinder Sukhu, with 15 other leaders, followed Agnihotri and met the Chief Minister on August 21 and submitted a memorandum to enact stringent laws against drug peddlers.

Sukku also wanted the Chief Minister to instil the fear of laws to discourage the drug peddlers. He could now see that the bordering areas of Himachal need joint efforts of the police of concerned states.

Also, now he has come up with several suggestions for the new government.

The Chief Minister has assured the Congress delegation that Himachal would be made a drug-free state.

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BJP leasing out Govt land in Shimla worth crores to RSS-linked organizations at a throwaway price: CPI(M)

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HP Govt leasing out land in shimla to rss

Shimla: One day ahead of the Shimla Municipal Corporation’s meeting on June 29, Bhartiya Janata Party-led state government is facing criticism over the proposal to lease out government land to organizations associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at a throwaway rate.

At a time when the city needs land for public facilities like playgrounds for children, parking lots/complexes, community buildings etc., the government is being alleged of losing focus on the priorities.

The former Mayor of Shimla city and leader of the CPI(M), Sanjay Chauhan, on Thursday said the state government has decided to lease out two pieces of land owned by the HP Public Works Department worth crores to two of RSS’s organizations at a throwaway price, which is a complete misuse of the public property and resources, he said.

He said the current government has decided to lease out 22669.38 square meter land in Tutikandi in Shimla city to Matrivandana – an organization linked to the RSS.

Similarly, he further alleged, a piece of land measuring 257.15 square meters is being given to Vivekanand Kendra in Nabha at a throwaway price.

The government is rendering landless farmers homeless and snatching away their livelihood by evicting them from forest land and felling apple-laden trees, but at the same time, it is offering land to organizations which would use them to expand their propaganda, Chauhan said.

He further pointed out that the government has not provided even two Biswa piece of land to poverty-stricken, homeless families to build homes, however, it did decide to provide land worth crores in the middle of the city to the said organizations.

The party said the government is working on the direction of the RSS and deviating from its constitutional duties. The party has demanded a roll-back of these decisions at the earliest or to face public protests.

The land belongs to the people of Shimla and it must be utilized for their facilities instead of gifting it to organizations which are working to promote disharmony among the people.

Chauhan said.

Further, the SMC has proposed a hike in the honorarium given to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Ward Councillors. A proposal to buy a new car for the Mayor is also on the list. The Deputy Mayor has also asked SMC to provide him with an official vehicle.

The SMC House is expected to witness a ruckus in tomorrow’s meeting as half a dozen of BJP’s Ward Councillors had demanded the removal of Mayor and Deputy Mayor following their failure to run the city efficiently.

Earlier, the Councillors had also submitted a written complaint regarding the duo to a minister. Some of them had even threatened to boycott the meeting if the demand was not met. However, no notice was served to move a dissolution motion.

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