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Govt silent over safety of 3 Himachali youth allegedly held hostages by Nigerian pirates for ransom

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Shimla: Three youths hailing from Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district, who were serving in Merchant Navy, have reportedly ended in the hands of armed Nigerian sea pirates as hostages. The armed pirates hijacked their ship and demanded a ransom of 11 million nairas (20-22 Lakh INR) from the parents of one of the hostages.

The details are scanty as no official confirmation has been made by the State or Centre Government. It is not clear when they were abducted. 

The news broke out when Raghubir Singh (62) of Nagrota, father of one of the hostages, reached media yesterday.  

As per the information given by Raghubir, the other two men included Pankaj Kumar of Samloti and Ajay Kumar of Palampur.

The three men were currently working for a private shipping company named Max Marine Services in Cortnou Benin.

On March 12, the parents of one of the abducted youth, Susheel Sharma (37), who was the captain on the ship, received a call through a satellite phone. Susheel told the parents that he along with two others had been held hostage in some jungle. He told the parents about the pirate’s demand for ransom in exchange for their release.

On March 21, Himachal had received a shock after the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed, while speaking in the Parliament, the killing of 39 Indians in Iraq including four men from Himachal. Three of them hailed from Kangra while remaining one belonged to Mandi district.

Now, this fresh case of abduction has again jolted Kangra.

Surprisingly, as alleged by the parents, the Centre or State Government have not given any reaction to the situation.   

The district administration also said it was not aware of the situation.

The parents also alleged the shipping company of keeping them in dark whenever they contacted it to know whereabouts of their son. The owner of the ship told the parents that a negotiation was ongoing with the pirates.

However, recently, the owner stopped picking up phone calls from the aggrieved parents.  

Ultimately, the family on March 18 approached the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the Prime Minister, Modi,  through a mail with their plea to intervene and rescue their son.

However, the parents allege that they did not receive any satisfactory response from anyone. 

As per the statement of the parents, Sudhir had told them that they are getting only one meal per day. The pirates will starve them to death if the ransom is not paid, Sudhir had told the parents.

Now, the parents do not trust the company anymore and have put their hope on the Government.   

  

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Covid Orphans Seven Children in Himachal So Far, To be Placed Under Foster Care

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Shimla-The Corona pandemic has not only adversely affected the economy but has also devastated families. The deadly second wave has orphaned several children in Himachal Pradesh. There are instances where the children lost both their parents and left in the lurch. In other cases, life has become hard for children with a single parent, especially those coming from economically weaker backgrounds. Such children are forced to confront not only hardships, but they are also traumatized.

According to the official data, as of now seven children in the State have been orphaned due to Covid-19 and all these children were living with their kith and kin.

The Government said it had approached their guardians but they have refused to send the children to the Child Care Institutions. Therefore, the directions have been issued to the field officers to initiate action for placing them under foster care and provide Rs. 2500 per child per month up to the age of 18 years to the foster parents/children.

The state government also said that those children who are enrolled in Child Care Institutions and are temporarily restored to their families due to closure of schools amid the Covid pandemic would be provided Rs. 2000 per month to enable them to continue their online education. Presently 598 children were being benefitted under this Scheme, the state government claimed.

Further, the children up to the age of 18 years who either have lost their parents or are suffering from Covid would be provided shelter and care in Child Care Institutions.

The employees working in these institutions have been declared as frontline workers for purpose of vaccination.

Under the Mother Teresa Asahay Matri Sambal Yojna, financial assistance of Rs. 6000 per child per annum was being provided to widows for maintenance of two children up to the age of 18 years. Families whose annual income does not exceed Rs. 35000 were being covered under this Scheme, the government informed.

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Weather Alert in Himachal, Heavy Rainfall and Hailstorm Predicted for Two Days

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Shimla-With the onset of Western Disturbances in northern India, the Himachal Pradesh Meteorological Department, Shimla, has issued a yellow alert for May 18th, 19th and 20th in the plain/low hills and middle hills. For higher hills, a yellow alert has been issued for May 19th and 20th with predictions of heavy rain in most areas and chances of snow in some parts.

The meteorological department has issued a yellow alert for Una, Bilaspur, Kangra, Hamirpur, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Solan, Sirmaur, and Kinnaur. In some areas of Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur, the higher hill areas can receive snowfall.

The minimum temperature recorded in Shimla on Tuesday was 16.3 degree Celsius, 15.3 in Sunder Nagar, 12.1 in Bhuntar, 7.1 in Kalpa, 16.0 in Dharamshala, 20.8 in Una, 19.5 in Nahan, 3.0 in Kelang, 18.0 in Palampur, 16.0 in Solan, 10.0 in Manali, 19.0 in Kangra, 15.0 in Mandi, 16.8 in Bilaspur, 17.2 in Hamirpur, 14.0 in Chamba, 17.0 in Dalhousie and 14.4 degree Celsius in Kufri.

The maximum temperature recorded on Monday in Una was 40.4 degree Celsius. The maximum temperature in Bilaspur was 39.5, 38.8 in Hamirpur, 35.4 in Kangra, 35.0 in Nahan, 34.4 in Sunder Nagar, 34.3 in Chamba, 33.1 in Bhuntar, 31.6 in Solan, 27.4 in Dharamshala, 26.6 in Shimla, 22.0 in Kalpa, 21.3 in Dalhousie and 17.2 degree Celsius in Kelang.

As defined by the Met department, low hills/plains cover Una, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Parts of District of Kangra (Nurpur, Jwala and Dehra), Solan (Nalagarh, Baddi, Arki and Kunihar), and Sirmaur (Nahan and Ponta Sahib.

Middle hills cover Shimla, mandi, Kullu, some parts of Chamba (Sihunta, Chowari and Chamba), and most parts of Solan and Sirmaur district.

Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur, Chamba, Upper parts of Kullu and Mandi falls in the higher hills.

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Himachal: 58 More Patients Succumb to Covid-19, Total Active Cases Reach 36,633

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Shimla-The death toll in Himachal Pradesh reached 2,369 on Monday after 58 patients of coronavirus succumbed to severe symptoms of the infection. According to official data released by the state government, 3,546 new cases of coronavirus were detected in the last 24-hours. This takes the total cases of infection in the state to 1,63,786 out of which 36,633 are active cases.

With 24 deaths, the Kangra district reported the highest number of casualties on Monday.  The district also reported the highest 1241 cases. The Solan district reported 10 fatalities in the last 24-hours.; while at the same time, Shimla reported seven deaths. 45 patients who succumbed to Covid-19 in the last 24 hours had no comorbidities while 16 patients were under the age of 50. Out of 13,556 Covid tests that were run across the state, 647 remain awaited.

Also Read: Himachal’s Positivity and Fatality Rates for Last Week High at 28.9% and 1.52% Respectively

 

View the District-wise Details of all COVID-19 Cases for May 17, 2021 (Till 7 pm) Below:

covid cases in himachal pradesh on may 17

The state government opened the vaccination drive for people in the 18-44 age group category on Monday. A total of 23,319 people received their first dose of vaccine across the state. While only 90 people across the state received their second dose of vaccine on Monday. 4,34,604 people have received both doses of the Covid vaccine by Monday. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said on Monday that for the latest vaccination drive, 213 centers have been set up in the state.  Under the 18-44 age group, 21,090 people have already booked their slots.  CM Thakur also urged people to observe Covid-prevention protocols like wearing face masks and sanitising hands at the Centres.

The next day of vaccination for 18-44 years is on Thursday and the sessions for the same would be made available on the COWIN portal on Tuesday. Other sessions for the vaccination would be held on May 24, May 27, and May 31. 

View the District-wise Details of all COVID-19 Deaths in Himachal Pradesh for May 17, 2021 (Till 7 pm) Below:

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