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Ailing man allegedly dies few hours after forceful eviction by HP Forest Dept  

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HP Forest land encroachment row

Kundan was ill and lying on his bed and his thumbprint was taken on the papers forcefully. Within hours of the incident, Kundan passed away.

Shimla: Shattered after orders of eviction and felling of apple trees, on January 3, 2018, a retired caption of Indian Army, L.R. Chauhan of Tikkar of Rohru region in Shimla district, committed suicide by consuming a pesticide.

He was given 11 bighas of land in Tikkar as ‘nautod’ in 1971. However, the administration first shifted him to a another piece of land without completing all mandatory document work. He couldn’t prove he owned the land.

In a latest incident, a group of activists, the Himachal Van Adhikar Manch (HVAM), fighting for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006 in the Hill State, alleged that a Dalit man, Kundan Singh, of Salamatpur, Paonta Sahib, Sirmaur district, succumbed to his illness after his family was forcibly thrown out of their home and land by the forest department.

The eviction took place on December 27, 2017, when the forest officials came to remove the dwelling by force. Kundan was ill and lying on his bed and his thumbprint was taken on the papers by force. Within hours of the incident, Kundan passed away.

According to  Kundan’s widow Darshini Devi, they had been living in the village for past several decades. The common village land on which the family was living was given to  Kundan after passing a common resolution.  As Kundan belonged to Dalit community (Schedule Caste) and used to tan the skin of the dead cattle, the villagers found him useful. His family was living a life of hand to mouth, and family used to cultivate some of the land around its dwelling for subsistence.

The ongoing ‘apple tree massacre’ has now become a matter of life and death for the poor or those settled on the forest lands for over three decades or more.

Kundan was given a notice regarding the encroachment in 2015, but, according to his son, he was never given a chance to be heard at the Divisional Forest Office where the case was lodged.

Shockingly,  the DFO who had issued the notice is himself a member of the District Level Committee constituted under the Forest Rights Act 2006. The DFO could have given Kundan a chance to place his claim under the FRA Act 2006 – a legislation precisely passed to protect vulnerable and marginalised sections of the society/communities dependent on ‘forest land’ for dwelling, agriculture and other common uses, said the HVAM.

The very purpose of the act was to undo the historical injustice which the poorest section of Indian populace has faced for the last hundreds of years by being labelled as ‘encroachers’.

As per the ‘HVAM’, there are more such incidents where Dalit families settled in common or private villages lands in the area are being removed.

This disastrous act came after the State High Court cracked the whip against the lackadaisical HP Government over encroachment of the forest land. The district administrations are blindly felling thousands of apple trees and evicting all dwellings. As per the court, it is being done to free the forest land from encroachers.

However, it’s implementation without giving any thought to the Forest Rights Act 2006 is proving to be an undemocratic blunder in several cases. The communities living and dependent on the forest resources are being denied their rights.

The illegal manner in which many vulnerable communities are being evicted from their lands by labelling them as ‘encroachers’ is highly condemnable, said the HVAM.

It further added that the forest and revenue departments are filing cases of encroachment against Dalit and other landless communities under the HP Public Premises & Land (Eviction & Rent Recovery) Act, 1971 and section 163 of HP Land Revenue Act 1954. The felling of full-grown apple trees and evacuation are being carried out under the garb of the order passed by the High Court in April 2015 regarding the removal of encroachments.

As per the HVAM, the Public Premises Act concentrates too much power in the hands of the DFO, who is the complainant, collector and prosecutor – all three under the legislation.

However, it is important to note that the Premises and Land Revenue Acts are State legislation. Therefore, the Central legislation like the Forest Rights Act 2006 can override it, the HVAM emphasized.

This is a gross negligence on the part of the forest administration and also a violation of section 3(g) of the Scheduled Tribes and Castes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act 2015, asserted the HVAM.

The administration had a choice to use a pro-people legislation in favour of a poor Dalit family. However, instead of the ethically and constitutionally correct move, it chose to act in a draconian manner despite the provision of progressive laws like the FRA Act 2006. The action only aggravated agony of Kundan and his family as its struggle for survival.

The HVAM insists that the State Government needs to take immediate action against the responsible official under the provisions of the Atrocities Act and provide relief to Kundan’s family. The government must ensure no blunders of a similar kind are repeated. The rights of the forest-dwelling communities, especially Dalits, under available laws like FRA, must be protected, said the HVAM.

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Rave Party in Kasol Busted, Organizer Nabbed, Suspected Addictive Substances Seized

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Rave Party in Kasol busted 2

Kullu-A rave party organized illegally in the middle of a jungle in Kasol of Parvati Valley in Kullu district was raided by a Special Investigation Unit on Thursday. The team raided the spot on a tip and found about 200 tourists participating in the party.

According to the inspector, SIU, Sunil Sankhyan, most of the tourists were Israeli and also included about 50 women.  

 The team succeeded in nabbing the organizers of the party, who was identified as Pratap Singh, a resident of village Chalaal, Kasol.  

The police have filed a case against accused under Section 113 of Police Act 2007, Section 6 of HP Instruments Act, and Section 188 of Indian Penal Code

The Superintendent of Police, Gaurav Singh, confirmed the news.  

As per the inspector Sankhyan, the police received a tip that a party was being organized in the jungle between Choz and Kasol.

“Yesterday, when the Special Investigation Team was present in Kasol at 11:30 PM, information was received that Pratap Singh will be organising a rave party with foreign tourists in the jungles between Kasol and Choz without permission and that drugs and alcohol will be consumed during the party,”

an official told ANI

The team reached the spot at about 2:30 AM and it took over two and a half hours for it to reach the spot. Chaos broke out among tourists as they saw the police.

The SIU team succeeded in nabbing the organizer and seizing electronic equipment, generator, and some substances, which were believed to be addictive drugs. These substances would be sent for forensic testing, the police said.   

Further, the police said while most of the tourists managed to flee the spot, some of them were apprehended and are being questioned.   

 

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ABVP HPU Celebrates Independence Day and Raksha Bandhan With SSB jawans

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ABVP Celebrates Raksha Bandhan With SSB Shimla 5

Shimla– The Himachal Pradesh University unit of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) today celebrated the 73rd Independence Day and Raksha Bandhan with the jawans of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) at the Shimla cant.

ABVP Celebrates Raksha Bandhan With SSB Shimla 4

Girl students remained present during this celebration.  They tied Rakhis on the wrists of jawans to celebrate Rakhi.

ABVP Celebrates Raksha Bandhan With SSB Shimla 3

The campus secretary, HPU, Ankit Chandel, said that being a social organization, ABVP keeps organizing such events.

While conversing with jawans of SSB, ABVP said that like the Indian armed forces remain deployed in service and security of the nation from both internal and external enemies, ABVP is also working towards preparing citizens ideologically to ensure internal security of the nation since 1949.

ABVP Celebrates Raksha Bandhan With SSB Shimla 2

ABVP said, it has organized such events time and again and tried to support the armed forces whether it is the war of 1962 or Kargil war of 1999.

 

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HP Govt Announces 4% DA to Employees, Fee Exemption to Girls Appearing in HPPSC, HPSSSB Exams, Hike in Financial Assistance to Ex-Servicemen

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HP Govt Annoucements on Independence Day 2019

Shimla– Himachal Pradesh Government, on 73rd Independence Day, made several announcements. The Independence Day was celebrated throughout Himachal Pradesh. Functions were organised at State, District and Sub-Divisional levels.

While presiding over the State Level Independence day celebration function at historic Ridge Shimla, the  Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur hoisted the National Flag and took the salute from the impressive march past by contingents of Police, Home-Guards, NCC, scouts and guides and NSS cadets including school Children.

Chief Minister announced 4 per cent Dearness Allowance to the employees and pensioners of the state government to be paid from January 2019 onwards. This decision would provide an annual additional financial benefit of Rs 260 crore to the employees of the State.

Chief Minister also announced that in future, the girl candidates of the State would not have to deposit examination fee for appearing in the entrance tests conducted by the State Public Service Commission and State Subordinate Services Selection Board.

He also announced free textbooks to government school students of 9th and 10th class, which would benefit over 65,000 students of the State.

He announced enhancement in financial assistance being given to ex-servicemen, widows of ex-servicemen and their dependants above the years of 60 years and those who were not getting old age or any another pension from existing 10,000 to Rs 20,000 per annum.  

The Chief Minister announced an enhancement of financial assistance from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 10,000 per month to fighters of Second World War and from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 5000 to the war widows.

Awards

The Chief Minister presented Himachal Gaurav Purskar to Nishad Kumar and Lt. Commander Pratibha Jamwal. He gave away Prarena Satrot Puraskars to Subedar Rinjin Dorje (posthumously),  Alikya and Himkara Organisation.

He presented the Civil Services Award to HP State Disaster Management Authority, which was received by former Additional Chief Secretary Manisha Nanda.

The district-level Disaster Management Authority awards were presented to Kullu and Lahaul and Spiti districts which were received by the then Deputy Commissioners Yunus Khan and Ashwini Kumar respectively.

 

 

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