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Shimla MC House is now BJP’s own “Big Boss” show




Shimla: The internal political affairs of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have turned the Shimla Municipal Corporation into a home-made series of ‘Big Boss’. Now we even have a Mayor who was reportedly seen shedding tears in internal party meetings called up with the revolting BJP Councillors.

This time the Big Boss managed to convince these Councillors to support the Mayor and Deputy Mayor in the House to avoid a dissolution motion. It would have been an embarrassment for the ruling party if it had to remove the duo owing to protest by own Councillors.

In the monthly General Meeting of the House conducted on June 29  after several adjournments, most of the proposals in the agenda including the much-needed parking complex at the Indira Gandhi Medical College were postponed due to the ruckus in the House.

However, there was one job that the House did accomplish: issuing No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the government land leased out to two organizations, which are not associated with the public facilities or city’s developmental work in anyway.

The House issued NOC for leasing out 22669 land to Matrivandna and 257 sq. Mt. Land to Vivekanand organization. Even the BJP councillors who boycotted the meeting as protest were also present to pass the resolution to issue NOC to these organisations, which are said to be associated with the Rashtriya Swayamseva Sangh (RSS).

Suddenly, the 11 BJP Councilors, who had been demanding the removal of the current Mayor Kusum Sadrate and Deputy Mayor Rakesh Chauhan, changed their tone and demand. Now, as a piece of meat, the Commissioner Rohit Jamwal, was thrown to the media and the people.

What appears to be an insult of the House is that the transfer of the Commissioner was announced in the middle of the meeting. He was there in the first session to conduct the proceedings of the House, but he was missing in the second one. The Councillors were told that Mr. Jamwal was transferred and Mr. Pankaj Rai have been brought back as the new Commissioner.

Take a look at the proceedings of the House in yesterday’s meeting:

Now, instead of the Mayor and Dy Mayor, the BJP Councillors suddenly came up with new allegations against the Commissioner. They said he did not listen to Councillors and the files of developmental works were pending due to him.

BJP is trying to hide its failures. The Commissioner was mere a scapegoat and he had to bear the brunt of anger among BJP’s own Councillors. They wanted the removal of Mayor and Deputy Mayor, but now a sacrifice of an official was made as part of the drama to deviate attention from the main issue,

said Archana Dhawan, a Councillor of Congress.

It was the part of BJP’s plan to cover up the big failure of its Mayor and Deputy Mayor. The Commissioner has been transferred when the meeting of MC house was going on, which is derogatory also,

said Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla.

Apparently, the bureaucrats are used like disposable cutlery. Along with Mr. Jamwal, the government has shifted nine IAS officers and eight HPAS officers too. It’s for the third time in six months that the government has re-shuffled IAS and HPAS officials.

Further, the condition of civic amenities and pace of developmental activities is a matter of worry for the people. The Corporation is not even able to collect and transport daily garbage regularly. Heaps of garbage along roads welcome tourists.

During recent rains, residents have been posting videos showing the state of rainwater drainage. Even the historic Shimla Mall was flooded by rainwater due to poorly maintained drainage system.

In Vikasnagar, Ward muck entered the shops and a dental cleaning due to poor drainage, and a video of it had done rounds of the social media.

Other things to consider are the attitude of the Mayor towards the acute water scarcity in Shimla town during second half of May, her decision to fly to China for a conference in the middle of the crisis, the revolt against her by BJP’s own Councilors, taking arbitrary decisions without conducting regular meetings of the House, her personal visits to annoyed Councilors to save her chair, and more.

The Mayor was not able to defend herself on returning to Shimla from China. She did her best to avoid facing the Ward Councillors. The Councillors had even protested against her for remaining absent from her office for photoshoots with the Chief Minister.

In fact, the Mayor believes the issue of water crises was mayor a propaganda of the oppositions and media had given in an unnecessary hike.

There are so much quarrel and drama that the focus of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and elected Councilors of 34 Wards of Shimla city is nowhere near their duty towards the public. The city and the people are facing a complete neglect.

But the Mayor does want a new SUV for her with the public money. This is the first time first time that Deputy Mayor also demanded a vehicle. Of course, she would defend it saying the vehicle is needed for her official work. 

 How can anyone defend this attitude?

Isn’t it unbelievable that despite all this chaos, internal revolt against them, and their apparent failure to manage the affairs of the Corporation, the duo dared to talk about spending public money on their own facilities?

If the MC provides a vehicle and a driver to the Deputy Mayor, then it would cost about Rs. 10 lakh per year, according to the official proposal. Remember, we haven’t estimated expenditure on official vehicle’s personal use yet.

How can they even dare think about it when there is a widespread protest and unrest among the people of the city? There is hardly any citizen who would come in defense of the Mayor at time when BJP’s own Councilors were unhappy with her performance and demanding her removal.

Though criticism of the ruling party by oppositions and rivals is a usual trend, it also becomes their duty at times such as the SMC is facing currently.

Alongwith the public, the opposition Congress that has Over a dozen of Councillors in the House and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that has one Councillor are asking the Mayor to resign on moral ground after taking the responsibility for the ongoing chaos.

It’s a complete failure of one-year BJP rule in Municipal Corporation Shimla. Even BJP Councillors alongwith CPM and Congress councillors were demanding the removal of Mayor and Deputy Mayor because they failed to run MC while the people of the city are facing several problems,

said Chauhan.

The door to door garbage collection has been directed towards failure by BJP led MC to implement its agenda of privatisation and to benefit it favoured private companies. In five wards door to door garbage collection have already been outsourced to a private company,

Chauhan alleged.

Over 30 workers of the Shimla Heritage, Environment and Beautification (SHEB) Society have already quite the work as a protest against the privatization of the door-to-door garbage collection in five wards. The workers fear that soon remaining wards would also be given in the hands of private contractors that might render them unemployed.

The workers are of the opinion that they had dreamed of getting regular and being paid better under the new government, but with privatization, it turned out to be an illusion. 

The moral and ethical values are missing among our politicians. They are nothing more than puppets in the hands of Big Boss (party high command).

Expect more episodes in coming days because a murmur over demand of removal of the duo can still be heard among the revolting BJP Councillors.

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.

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Students Arrested, Stone Pelting Breakout in Himachal: Is Internal Tension Required?




Kashmiri Students in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla– Two students of the Dr Y. S. Parmar University of Horticulture, Nauni, in Solan district, were suspended following a complaint that these students were allegedly supporting the most dreadful suicide bombing in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on February 14, 2019.

The local police, following the complaint, detained both students, who hail from J&K. A local court sent them to a three-day remand, the district police confirmed.

As a case has been registered by the police against the two students of Jammu and Kashmir. The Deans of respective Colleges in which they were studying i.e. College of Forestry and College of Horticulture have on Monday suspended them,

a university official told Himachal Watcher, confirming the report.

Additional SP (ASP) Shiv Kumar Sharma also confirmed the news and identified two students as Peer Jada Tabish, a student of MSc first year, and Auqib Rasool, a BSc student. As per the SP, the action came following a complaint from the university authorities.

Reportedly, students of the university carried out a rally demanding the suspension of the students while shouting anti-Pakistan slogans. An FIR was registered under Section 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the two students.

On Saturday, local police had detained a Kashmiri student of Chitkara University, Baddi, over alleged comments on social media, supporting the suicide bomber.

The police department has reportedly asked all the universities to provide a list of all Kashmiri students enrolled in their respective institutes.

On Tuesday, as per a report by News 18, a scuffle was reported between two groups of students at Abhilashi Memorial Institute of Engineering and Technology in Mandi district. An unverified video of the scuffle was in circulation on social media sites. However, the police did not verify it as communal in nature. It was said to be just random groups of students, who might have clashed over their previous grudges.

Another news report said a panchayat in Mandi district has passed a resolution and asked Kashmiri citizens living in rented quarters to leave the panchayat. Some miscreants also pelted stones on their quarters. The Superintendent of Police, Mandi, Gurudev Sharma, however, said there was no injury or damage to private property and Kashmiris were safe.
Afraid after the stone pelting, they took shelter at police station Baldwara.

Similarly, there were reports from other States where some Kashmiri students were held for either supporting the terrorist attack, anti-national activities, or posting communally inciting posts/comments on social media.  Such incidents are working as a double-edged sword – infuriating the majority, as well as, making all Kashmiri students vulnerable to violence.  

As a result, other Kashmiri students in other parts are also facing widespread backlash. Reports said Kashmiri students were leaving hostels to return to their homes. 

As per The Hindu, over 300 students were said to have arrived at Jammu and Delhi to return to their homes in J&K after facing back-lash, especially from right wing groups. The report also quoted Kashmiri students alleging of receiving threats from right-wing outfits. 

Another report on The Hindu said that some local youth raised slogans against Kashmiri students studying in an engineering college in Panipat with a demand to expel them from the institute.

Regardless of the need of the hour, a large number of Kashmiri students enrolled in other States of India has come under the scanner of right-wing outfits.

A sort of communal tension is growing in the society, which is exactly what the terrorist outfits want. Harassment or boycott of Kashmiris would only make them more susceptible to separatist agenda.

The reports also suggested that natives of the valley were receiving warning from their landlords to evacuate their property, fearing vandalism.

As per a report, some right-wing outfits roughed up a dozen students in Dehradun and forced the Kashmiri girls to lock themselves inside hostel rooms.

Feeding over the distress and anguish among the people over the Pulwama massacre, the right-wing outfits are upto fueling the nationalist agenda they had been cultivating since last five years.

Patron media channels had straightway started demanding revenge through bigger surgical strike or a full-fledged attack on Pakistan. Hashtags like #BadlaKab trended on Twitter.  

Though the police did not confirm it, a video appeared on media websites showing a bunch of people allegedly assaulting Kashmiri labourers (Khans) in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, which also lost one of its bravehearts, Tilak Raj, in the attack. 

To deal with this problem, the J&K Police has established a helpline for the assistance of students and general public who are presently staying outside the state.

In case they find any difficulty. The students are advised to call for any kind of assistance on 0194-2451515,

said J&K police advisory. 

The Union Government has already issued warning to all states to ensure safety of Kashmiri students and citizens.

The J&K administration on Monday said that the local administration and college authorities have given full assurance about safety of the students.

The state administration is advising all the students and their parents, not to pay heed to any rumours, try to stay put at their respective places and contact the LOs or local police administration for help. The mobile numbers of LOs have already been distributed among the students,

a spokesman said.

The Union Government had defended the demonetization move by citing it as a deterrent to terrorism in the valley. The terrorist organizations would be financially drained, thus, rendered helpless, the government and the leaders of the ruling party had claimed.

However, there seems to be no let up in the situation. Terrorist activity and attacks have not declined. Instead, more encounters were reported in 2018. 

Terrorist incidents in J&K increased 177% over four years to 2018, from 222 to 614; 838 terrorists were killed over the last five years, a 134% increase from 110 in 2014 to 257 in 2018. As many as 339 security forces died–a 94% increase from 47 in 2014 to 91 in 2018–in 1,708 terrorist attacks over the five years ending 2018 in J&K,

the J&K minister of home affairs had stated in his reply in the Lok Sabha on February 5, 2019,

The fact that the suicide bomber responsible for the Pulwama attack was a home-grown terrorist is a big reason to worry. 

Stories regarding the suicide bomber suggest that while the young boy had already been inclined towards militant groups, his bad experiences with Indian forces or local police pushed him further to join Jaish-e-Mohhammed – the militant group that claimed the full responsibility for the Pulwama attack.   

Negativity would only fuel negativity, which J&K cannot afford right now. Indian Government will have to fight this war at International level to isolate Pakistan and convince other nations to cut supply of resources to Pakistan – a patron of these terrorist organizations.

The only way to ensure that no more lives are lost is to break the cycle of violence. As witnessed in the past couple of decades, the call for counter-violence has become a part of this vicious cycle. Ending terrorism in J&K depends on the will and vision of the political leaders of the country, and not in using defense forces to roast political cookies.

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Viral Video of Overloaded Bus in Sirmaur Points at Inadequate Transportation Service



OVerloaded Bus In Sirmaur of Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-Overloading in private as well as the government buses in Himachal Pradesh, especially, in interior areas has always been a hazard. Despite several bus accidents that claim thousands of lives every year, there does not seem to be any let up in the situation.

As per the statement made in the State Assembly by the minister of the opposition party, MukeshAgnihotri, over 1200 lives were lost while thousands of others sustained injuries in various accidents across the Stateduring 2018.

While the government tries to justify itself over road accidents, a fresh picture and a video of an overloaded private bus are making rounds on the social media, raising questions over the efforts of the government to discourage overloading.

As per reports, this bus was on its way to Manva from Rajgarh in Sirmaur district on Tuesday. The bus was jam-packed and over a dozen passengers could be seen sitting on the roof of the bus. On a complaint, the local police intercepted the bus near the Forest Colony.

When the police counted passengers standing inside the bus and those sitting on the roof, it was found that the bus was carrying 95 passengers, excluding the driver and the conductor, against its seating capacity of 37.

However, when the police questioned the driver for grieve violation of traffic laws and endangering lives of the passengers, the driver argued that it was not only his bus that was overloaded, that this is a normal scene in all buses. The driver can be heard saying that government buses were also overloaded.

When police told the passengers to avoid traveling in overloaded buses, they replied that they don’t have any option, suggesting inadequate public transportation servicesas the cause. Police advised the people to approach their Sub-Divisional-Magistrate (SDM) to solve any problem relating to inadequate public transportation.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rajgarh, DushyantSarpal, confirmed that the documents of the bus have been confiscated. He said the police has taken such actions on several occasions but the situation doesn’t get any better.

It’s notable that pictures of such overloaded buses keep appearing on social media. There is no dearth of examples that highlight flaunting of traffic laws and rules defined under the Motor Vehicle Act.

The school bus accident in Nurpur in April 2018, which claimed lives of 28 persons including two dozen children, had highlighted carelessness on the part of the government. However, the government washed its hands off putting all the blame on the driver, who had also died in the same accident.

In January 2019, seven children died when their school bus met with an accident in Renuka Ji, Sirmaur district. Later, during the investigation, it was found that the bus was too old with little mechanical maintenance. A magisterial probe cited mechanical fault as the cause of the accident.

Despite being in a poor state, the transportation authority permitted this bus to be operational.  Moreover, like in the Nurpur accident, there were no crash barriers of any sort of roadside-safety measures along that road.

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HW Exclusive: Dirt newbie Sushant Thapa and champion Suresh Rana on Motorsports



Suresh Rana and Sushant Thapa of Himachal Pradesh

He is a ‘One Man Show’ and people know him as the King of Speed. From Raid de Himalaya to Desert Storm, SJOBA Thunderbolt Rally, Arunachal Speed Fest, Dakshin Dar and many more, there is nothing that has not been written about the Motorsports champion Suresh Rana.

Born and brought up in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, Suresh Rana got a quick fascination with speed when he saw drivers running fast on the roads near his home during the budding years of Raid De Himalaya in the late 90’s. That stuck in his mind and he started running his vehicle on roads where there was less traffic.

Suresh Rana

Once he was riding in Spiti and on the way to Kaza he was spotted by the officials of Raid De Himalaya and they encouraged him to participate. It was the year 2001 when he participated in the Raid for the first time and since then there has been no looking back for him.

11 times winner of Raid de Himalaya, Rana is a power-packed member of the team Maruti Motorsports since 2009. When he started, he was a novice and the scope for learning professional motorsports was nil.

From Rana to dirt newbie: Sushant Thapa of Team Himachal Valley, is Himachal a place for budding rallyists?

Shushant Thapa

Sushant was born in Kullu and brought up in Nahan of District Sirmaur. We spotted him at the Himalayan Auto Cross Rally which happened in Kullu last month. What made us know him more was his passion and extreme driving skills that reminded us of the novice Suresh Rana of the early 2000’s.

It was for the first time he participated in any championship and he surprised us. Sushant finished his race in 1 minute 54 Seconds and stood second on the podium, which is an unexpected achievement for a beginner. He gave tough competition to experienced participants who had already participated in various national rallies including the prestigious Raid De Himalaya.

A student of legal studies from Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) and former football player, Sushant has represented in 17 National Football championships and 1 International under 19 Football championship in Nepal.

On his first experience in the Himalayan Auto Cross Rally, Thapa told Himachal Watcher,

Autocross is quite different from driving on road experience as there is an off road
track in which you have to keep yourself safe from fouls and drive carefully on the corners and beat the speed timings of the other participants. It was my first-time experience so I had to understand each and every detail myself while driving and analyzing the race track. It was quite tough because the other participants were experienced and they had already participated in many other national level competitions.

For talented aspirants like Sushant Thapa, who are full of energy and have the passion for motorsports but are clueless on where to polish their skills, Suresh Rana has started India’s first Mountain Rally School in Kullu and has already prepared three batches since the inception of Raptors RALLY School.

The idea of the Motorsports School was to polish the skills of the aspirants, promote them and give them the training that is required to make it a career. It is definitely a costly game in which financial and family support is a must.

There are many talented youngsters in Himachal Pradesh who are capable of showing their skills and talent through a full-time career in Motorsports, however, with the lack of proper knowledge, guidance and support from the family, they leave their dreams and look for a regular job option.

Speaking to us, Suresh Rana, who believes that Motorsports can be a career option if the aspirants spend some time in improving the performance and learning the techniques said,

There are many talented youngsters but they are not able to give their time in practice. It requires time, at least five years of practice to polish the skills and Motorsports teams are always looking for young and talented people. It can be a good career option if a person starts working on it from a young age.

He further added,

Motorsports is all about techniques more than having knowledge
and speed it is a must to know the techniques to control the vehicle and understand the breaking points. There are many drivers who drive well but when it comes to driving on the off-road with seatbelt on, they just can’t do it. It is quite tough to practice without a teacher and moreover, we don’t really have places to practice however I personally encourage the aspirants to learn and practice with safety. I am always there to help.

Rana while we finished our conversation said:

Newbie Sushant Thapa can do wonders in the field of motorsports. He has the talent, he understands the breaking points and he knows how to control his speed. If trained well, he can be the new champion from Himachal Pradesh,

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