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Ambulance Federation and opposition parties extend support to striking 108 staff in Himachal

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Shimla: The strike of the staff of 108 and 102 emergency services in Himachal Pradesh has entered its 7th day despite termination of about 63 striking employees by imposing of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).

This staff includes ambulance drivers and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who provide pre-hospital care to patients.

The staff have been protesting at the State Secretariat in Chotta Shimla since 25 June over their complain of exploitation by the private company GVK -Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI).

They approached the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and had submitted a memorandum of their demands. However, so far the staff only received ESMA and termination in return.

Now, Jeewan Rakshak Bhartiya Ambulance Karamchari Federation also jumped in to support the striking staff in Himachal. Bikramjeet Singh Saini, the president of the Federation, has warned of a strike in all North-Indian States including Punjab, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Delhi, UP, and Rajasthan on 11 July if the demands of the employees were not met.

We have already submitted a memorandum to Union Health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda at his New Delhi residence on June 21 demanding to bring the ambulance employees in all the states under the purview of NHM,

Saini told PTI.

It would mean that the emergency services can fall on their face in North Indian states, causing huge inconvenience to the public. Further, Saini has warned that if the government still did not yield, a country-wide strike will follow the July 11 event.

Now, the opposition parties Congress and CPI (M) have also come out in support of the striking staff.

The GVK- EMRI company is exploiting the staff since the day the agreement was signed with the State government for the operation of the emergency services. The government has introduced a condition of 12 hours service per day, which is a complete violation of the labour laws, said Sanjay Chauhan, leader of CPI(M) and former Mayor of Shimla.

The corruption and exploitation are clearly visible in the view of the recent scam by the GVK company in Himachal that was unearthed by the Central Bureau of Investigation,

said Sanjay.

An FIR has lodged an FIR against a senior Employee’s Provident Fund Organization Officer and a middleman of GVK company for offering and accepting a bribe.

The middleman has paid a bribe of Rs. 80,000 to the officer of the EPF office in exchange for reducing EPF liabilities of the company. Taking notice of the tempering with the EPF of the employees, the state government should act immediately to terminate the contract signed with the company and bring the staff under the purview of the NHM, he added.

Congress has also termed it a complete failure on the part of the government to ignore the grievance of the striking employees.

Instead of inviting the striking staff for talks and accepting the genuine demands of the staff, the government has imposed ESMA to terrorize the staff, which is a highly oppressive step,

said Congress Spokesperson.

He said the government is lying to avert criticism for its failure to intervene and end the strike.

The public is facing huge inconvenience and forced to bear expenses of hiring private vehicles due to the partial operation of 108 and 102 services.

The government says it has roped in the staff of the Health Department and Homegaurd to drive the ambulances. Drivers from neighbouring state Uttarakhand were also roped in.

While the government says about 192 of the total 108 ambulances are on road, the head of the 108 workers’ union Puran Chand rubbished the claim by saying that several ambulances were already unfit, therefore, it is a lie that 192 vehicles are on road.

There are total 126 ambulances under 102 emergency services for the pregnant women, and the government claims over 60 of them are still serving.

Demands of the Staff

The company is not paying more than Rs.5,000 to 10,000 as a salary while they staff is made to work for 12 hours per day, said the head of the union Puran Chand. Sometimes, the staff is undertaking 24 hours shifts too but there is no provision of additional payment for overtime, he added.

Further, the staff is demanding cancellation of the MoU signed between the HP Government and GVK EMRI for the operation of the emergency services. The staff also demand to bring their service under the purview of National Health Mission (NHM), like it is done in Haryana.

By bringing it under the government, the working hours of the staff should be fixed at eight hours per day. The employees expect that this step would put check on the exploitation of the employees by the private company.

The employees are both shocked and scared after the company terminated 63 employees under the cover of ESMA.

But we will continue our strike despite these terminations till our demand of bringing the 108 ambulances service under the purview of the National Health Mission (NHM) is met

, said Puran Chand.

Feature Photo: Dalbeer Singh Negi, DNA

Election Watch

In Himachal, Over 50 Lakh Voters to Cast Vote in 7730 Polling Stations on May 19

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Polling in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla– Over fifty lakh voters are set to vote in 7730 polling stations in four parliamentary constituencies of Himachal Pradesh in the last phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha election on May 19.

Talking about the poll preparations, Additional Chief Electoral Officer DK Rattan said, “53,30,154 voters will vote in 7730 polling stations on May 19. 373 polling stations are critical, 47 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed there.

It’s being ensured that voting takes place peacefully at all polling stations. Rattan said that polling agents have either reached their respective polling stations or are on their way

“Polling party for the remote, tribal polling station at Bara Bhangal in Kangra district was sent on May 15. In Shimla’s Dodra Kawar, teams and material were sent for seven polling stations on May 16,”

he said

“In Lahaul Spiti district, the polling station has been set at an altitude of 15,256 feet at Tashigang. This is the world’s highest polling station,”

he added. (ANI)

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Campus Watch

Nauni Varsity Scholar Selected for World Congress on Agroforestry 2019, France

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Krishan Lal Gautam of UHF Nauni in France

Solan: Krishan Lal Gautam, a doctorate student of Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni has been selected to give a poster presentation at the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry, being held in Montpellier, France from 20-22 May 2019.

Based on the abstract the scientific committee of the Congress has selected Krishan Lal for receiving 1921 euros grant for attending the event. This includes 340 euros for registration and other fees while another 1,481 euros is being paid to facilitate travel, accommodation, visa and living expenses.

Krishan Lal has completed his B Sc (Hons) Forestry and M Sc Agroforestry from UHF. He is presently pursuing his doctorate in Agroforestry from the university. The title of the poster presentation is ‘Effect of different types of organic manure on the production of Lepidium sativum under Morus based agroforestry system’.

Dr HC Sharma, UHF Vice-Chancellor said that it was a great achievement for a student to be selected for an international academic event of such high repute. He hoped that Krishan Lal will not only represent the institution but also shine at the event. The Dean College of Forestry and the faculty also wished him success at the event.

The 4th World Congress on Agroforestry will see the participation of more than 1000 delegates and leading keynote speakers from all over the world to address a wide range of key agroforestry research issues. It will gather facts and figures from developing and developed countries and support a collaborative effort with broad social participation. Special attention will be given to vulnerable countries and populations.

The overall objective of the Congress is to contribute to the progress of agroforestry science and practice in order to bridge the science-policy gap. Some of the topics which will be covered during the congress are agroforestry and climate change, agroforestry, food security and nutrition, adoption of agroforestry, agroforestry policies etc.

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Misc News/Press Release

Shimla Rape Case: An Eyewitness Confirms Part of Victim’s Statement

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Update on Shimla Rape Case Victim

Shimla-The alleged case of rape with a 19-year-old in Shimla’s Bhattakufar area has become more complicated as an eyewitness confirmed a part of the victim’s statement given to police. As per reports, this eyewitness, in his statement, told police that he was parking his car on that night (28 April) when this girl came to him rushing and asking for help.

“He claimed the 19-year-old was in a semi-nude condition and was begging for help when he came across her near the Hill Grove on the Dhalli-Bhattakufar road,”

reported News 18

She was so scared that she tried to enter his car, he said. She asked him about the name of the location. The eyewitness told her that it was Hill Groove.

This eyewitness said he told the girl to not to worry and even told her that he would call her wife if that makes her feel safe.

A few minutes later, the eyewitness told the police, two persons came on a bike. One of the boys gave his shirt to the girl and took her with him. The eyewitness also gave initials of the bike number, and said he could not remember the complete number as it was dark.

The eyewitness also identified the boy in front of police later.

The police also questioned the boy, who is said to be a friend of the girl. As per the boy, he later provided the girl with his sister’s clothes. The sister of the boy also confirmed the same, said a Hindi Daily.

The eyewitness said that on reaching home he had told about this incident to his wife as well.

Sources said the girl had mentioned in her complaint seeking help from a man after she was allegedly raped, which has been now confirmed. The girl had made a call to his friend and on the Gudiya helpline between 9:20 PM and 10 PM. Police has not revealed any further details about the call records of the girl’s phone.

However, the appearance of this eyewitness has raised questions over the claim of the police that the girl’s statement was not matching with its findings.

Earlier, police had claimed that CCTV footages of about 1.5 km area concerned to the alleged crime did not corroborate with the girl’s statement regarding kidnap. Also, police had claimed that the girl had withdrawn her statement and denied her own allegations in her statement given before the magistrate under CrPC 164.

As a contrast to it, now police said a sketch of the accused have been prepared on the description given by the girl.

The report of the second opinion on medical examination of the girl has not been made public yet.

The report of the magisterial probe into the role of Lakkar Bazaar police that was to be submitted by Thursday evening has also been delayed.

As per the English Daily The Tribune, police have questioned about 70 persons in connection to the alleged crime.

“The girl had said the accused was not known to her and was in his early 30s, wore specs and had a mole on his lower lip.

the Daily reported.

So far, police is clueless about unidentified accused.

Another striking aspect related to the case is that the family of the victim has not given any statement so far.

Family of Victim Under Pressure from BJP Govt in Haryana: Rathor

On the other hand, the President of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee, Kuldeep Rathor, in a press conference in Solan district on Thursday claimed, the family of the girl was being pressurized to hush-up the matter. He alleged that he has received this information from credible sources. As the girl hails from Haryana, and BJP is in power in both Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, her family was pressurized to not speak of it. This is the reason that after filing an FIR, the girl had to withdraw her statement, he alleged.

Rathor has also demanded a judicial probe under the supervision of the State High Court for a fair investigation.  

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