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Story of Shimla youth who started with smoking charas at 17, ended up in jail at 22 as drug peddler



Shimla youth lands in jail for drug peddling

Shimla: Not only the youth of Himachal Pradesh is falling victim to drug and substance abuse from adolescence age but also landing in jails as peddlers by they reach the tender age of as young as 20 years. Researchers have well established the co-relation between addiction and anti-social activities. Addicted youth very soon find it harder to afford drugs, so they take to crimes, especially thefts and drug peddling.

We have another case that all youth of Himachal should go through.

A youth, Deepak, (fictitious name) was a bright student during his early school days. He lived with his brother and parents in Chotta Shimla. His parents got divorced when he was young. Then he was left with disabled brother and his mother, who was the only earning hand.

Deepak was lucky enough to have studied in one of the good private schools of Shimla city. Everything was fine until he turned 17. Like a large number of vulnerable school students, he fell into the trap of substance abuse.

He started smoking charas when he was about 17 and was still at school. Within next two years, he was deep into drug addiction other than charas. He also got involved in selling charas to others at a small scale,

one of the Deepak’s friends told Himachal Watcher on the condition of anonymity.

He was even arrested by local police with charas and that case is still in the court, his friend added.

After completing school, very recently, he inherited ancestral property worth about one crore. He opened a travel agency in Shimla and bought a new car too. He moved to Chandigarh and got enrolled for the Bachelor Degree in Tourism Administration from an institute.

His friends said they thought things might have improved for him as his financial status was secure. 

However, with the drug addiction came addiction of fetching easy money through peddling.

Last Wednesday on June 27, 2018, a Special Task Force of Mohali police nabbed him and two others with 160 grams of heroin and 40 kg poppy husk at a naka at the Airport Chowk . As per police, Deepak was in contact with Nigerian peddlers and the heroin recovered from his possession was also sold to him by the same peddlers.

Now, he became an accused of peddling drugs and was booked under Section 21, 29, 61 and 85 of the ND&PS Act. His mother is in despair while Deepak stares at a dark future at an age of 22.

He is not alone. A large number of Himachal’s youth is landing in the same dungeon due to drug and substance abuse. On this June 22, a team of Mandi Police had arrested four youth including two minors with allegedly 498 grams of charas near Bhyuli on National Highway-21 in Mandi. As per police, one of the youth is the son of Ex-Congress MLA of Bilaspur Bambar Thakur and the car they were using was also registered his name. The police said the boy was a minor.

Earlier, Mandi police had busted a gang of bike thieves involving local youth. The sources have suggested that these youth had taken to bike-theft to fulfil their need of drugs.

Now, Himachal is compared with neighbouring Punjab – a state that has yesterday proposed death penalty to peddlers considering the alarming rate of youth falling into drugs.

The trend of drug abuse in Himachal, especially the capital Shimla, is visible through the cases filed by police under ND&PS Act. Charas an opium are being sidelined by Chitta or other restricted drugs.

Let us take a look at the cases filed by Shimla Police from June 1 to July 4, 2018.

  • On Tuesday, two-gram Heroin was recovered from the possession of a local and a case has been registered under Sections 21-61-85 of ND&PS Act at Sadar.
  • On Wednesday, Shimla Police nabbed three locals of Shimla with 10 Bottles of Pervo Caf. & 100 Tablets of Nitrazepam Tab. IP Nitrosun and a case was filed under Sections 21, 22,29-61-85 of ND&PS Act at Police Station, Nerwa.
  • On June 26, a local was held in Shimla with 08 Bottles of DIALEX-DC Syrup (Restricted Medicine) 100ml each.
  • On June 20, police nabbed a 25-year-old local youth with 20 Gram Chitta (Heroin) and a case was filed at Police Station, Shimla-East.
  • On June 16, Shimla Police recovered 4 Gram Chitta from the possession of a cab driver and case was filed at Sadar.
  • Similarly, Shimla Police had recovered Chitta in two separate cases. In one of them, on June 11, one person was arrested with 18 Gram Chitta.
  • On June 4, 198 Tablets of NITRAVET-10 (Restricted Medicines) were recovered from two local men.

Most of them are either small fish or consumers.

Yesterday, the members of the Zila Parishad, Shimla, expressed concern over the indulgence of youth into drugs and substance abuse. They said that over 80 percent of the youth of colleges and schools have become addicts.

At the same time, the State government hasn’t pondered over the matter of recruiting professional psychologists as counsellors at the education institutes, especially government and private schools. The adolescences in most cases are merely falling into this lethal trap due to peer pressure or curiosity triggered by higher exposure to the world through internet.

Another alarming trend that has been noticed during the last couple of years is that the youth, especially college students, takes to small-scale peddling to fulfil the requirement of money for their own addiction. 

The law enforcement can’t control it single-handedly. It requires collective efforts of the public and various other agencies including the Non-profit organizations and youth clubs.

The government need to initiate research studies and surveys to get hold of the technical aspects related to the growth of drug/substance abuse among youth.

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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Marriage Between a Male And a Transwoman is a Valid Marriage



Transgender marriage Valid in India says Cout

There are times when one feels proud to be a part of the legal profession, one such moment has come due to a recent judgment passed by a bench of the Madras High Court. The judgement was authored by J. G.R Swaminathan.

The High Court has recognized the marriage between a male and a transwoman. It has held that when both the partners are professing Hindu religion then the marriage is to be recognized under Section 5 of the Hindu marriage Act 1955, like any other Hindu marriage.

Though a path-breaking judgment, the Hon’ble Judges were humble enough to state that;

“By holding so, this court is not breaking any new ground. It is merely stating the obvious. Sometimes to see the obvious, one needs not only physical version in the eye but also love in the heart”

It so happened that Shri Arun Kumar got married to Miss Sarija in a temple as per Hindu rites and customs. The temples authorities though permitted the performance of marriage, but they declined to vouch for it or issue a certificate in this regard. When the parties approached the Government authorities for registration of marriage, the Authority also refused.

When the couple approached the High Court it was argued by the State Govt. that a ‘bride’ can only refer to ‘a woman on her wedding day’. Further they argued that the temple had rightly rejected the certificate as the bride wasn’t a ‘woman’.

The Court would have none of it. The court referred to the judgment on transgender rights in NALSA case and stated that the transgender person’s right to decide their self-identified gender has been upheld by the Apex Court already. The Court in the NALSA case noted that the existence of a third category outside the male/female binary has been recognized in the indigenous Hindu tradition from time immemorial.

Hon’ble High Court further stated that;

“Sex and gender are not one and the same. A persons’ sex is biologically determined at the time of birth. Not so in the case of gender. “

Transgender persons who are neither male/female fall within the expression person and hence are entitled to legal protection of laws.

The court also observed that often the state and its authorities either due to ignorance or otherwise, fail to recognize the identity of such persons or stop discrimination which they are made to face in the society. For too long transgender’s have been made to languish in the margins.

It said

“A person who is in the Third Category is entitled to remain beyond the duality of male/female or opt to identify oneself as male or female. It is entirely the choice of the individual concerned.”

The Court further directed the Tamil Nadu government to issue a Government Order to uphold the NALSA judgment and to “effectively ban sex reassignment surgeries on intersex infants and children.”

The Court also noted that the state should undertake awareness programmes to de-stigmatize the birth of intersex children.

“The parents must be encouraged to feel that the birth of an intersex child is not a matter of embarrassment or shame. It lies in the hands of the Government to launch a sustained awareness campaign in this regard.“

The stand of the court is applaudable and takes our commitment to the constitution further. The dignity of human life, one’s privacy, one’s right of a life partner is a basic part of an individual’s personal autonomy. This autonomy is guaranteed by the constitution, this autonomy is what we fought for in our freedom struggle. This autonomy cannot be made a plaything of the narrow-minded society, government, and political parties which come and go. The judiciary is the only institution which can be a custodian of this autonomy and a protector of the dignity of people in face of such societal, cultural and even governmental imposed discriminations.

A transwoman is a person and she enjoys equal rights. Her self-determination to find a partner and her expression to identify her gender as that of a woman is protected and is guaranteed the same recognition which is enjoyed by a male or a female (person) of the society.

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Group of Youth Try Cleaning Part of Shimla’s Jakhu Hill, Finds More Garbage Than Expected



Trek A Tribe Cleanliness Driver in Shimla

Shimla-Every year on April 15, Himachal Day is celebrated to mark the day when Himachal Pradesh, among other 30 princely states, came into being as a centrally administered territory. Since the inception of this state, the people throughout the world have admired Himachal Pradesh owing to its tall standing mountains, forests, nature, adventurous trekking trails and the peace and serenity it offers.

However, during the last decade, this love and admiration from tourists have turned into filth and carelessness. Rivers and forests alike have been polluted by broken beer bottles, single-use plastic cups, water bottles, wrappers of crisps and biscuit. Not only do they harm the soil, but also poses a threat to the lives of animals like cows and dogs, who consume littered plastic, causing them extreme physical ailments.

The menace of littering continues despite the claims of the civic bodies as well as the government of India that Swachh Bharat has almost eradicated this ill practice.

As an initiative Trek A Tribe, a tours and travels company, organized a cleanliness drive at Shimla on April 15, 2019 to celebrate Himachal Day. Total 18 youth participated in the cleanliness campaign. As per this team, the campaign began from Sheeshe Wali Kothi and was supposed to end at Jakhu Temple. But they had to abandon their plan of going till the top since the amount of waste was much more than these youth had expected.

Just the starting point consumed over four hours of their drive. We collected 35 bags of garbage at the starting point of their drive,

the team said.

Most of the trash is the plastic left behind by youth who come to the forest to drink and eat, causing harm to the environment,

the team said.

The end solution, however, does not lay in repetitive cleanliness drives, but in the conscious awareness of the people. They should be aware enough to not leave their trash behind, it said.  

These cleanliness drives, the team said, do help in cleaning the surroundings but they do not solve the purpose if the people keep littering the same place over and again. The team said that the purpose of its cleanliness drive was also to raise awareness among the people by initiating a dialogue towards the protection of the environment. This drive urged people to raise voice against plastic pollution and to lead their lives more consciously. They need a more aware lifestyle.

The Municipal Corporation, Shimla, provided transportation and disposal facility for the garbage collected by these youth.

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Now, Himachal’s Private Schools Warn Govt of Protest, Term Ongoing Inspections Wrongful



Himachal's Private Schools Inspection Report

Shimla-Under immense pressure from parents, who have been protesting for last one and half month, private schools in Himachal Pradesh are finally undergoing inspections from April 9, 2019.  As per reports, the committees formed by the Directorate of Higher Education, H.P., inspected dozens of schools in Shimla and took records related to fees charged during last three years, salaries of staff, number of students, facilities, qualification of teachers, expenditure on school etc. into possession.

Though the Department did not comment about these schools officially, the inspected schools of Shimla included St. Edwards, DAV Lakkar Bazaar, Dayanand Public School, Auckland House, St. Thomas, Convent of Jesus and Mary, Secret Heart Dhalli, DAV Totu, Mount Shivalik in Jubbarhatti, Rising High etc. There are over 150 private schools running in Shimla.

Internal sources from some of these schools, on the condition of anonymity, told Himachal Watcher that committees are executing directions of the Directorate strictly. The officials are not soft on the management. It has created a stir among these schools.

By issuing a notification, on April 8, 2019, the Directorate had formed committees and had asked them to file a report of private schools running in District Headquarters by April 13. However, inspections still continue and the Directorate has not received reports of all schools yet. The report of schools in subdivisions and others is expected by April 22.

As per the student-parent forum, total 1472 private schools are currently running in the State. Further course of action would be decided only after the data of all schools is available, the Director Dr Amarjeet Kumar Sharma  had told media.

Similarly, at least six teams were constituted for inspection of over 180 private schools in Kullu district. Reports from Bilaspur said there are over 80 private schools in Bilaspur and 20 percent of them had not provided data that the Directorate had sought two months ago. It is expected that now these schools would be made to comply with the orders strictly.

It’s pertinent to mention that the Directorate had asked schools to submit various data related to their fee structure, annual hikes, audit reports, funds etc. However, a large number of schools had not responded to it. Moreover, the Government appeared reluctant to take action for this non-compliance. But now the pressure from protesting parents now compelled it to take action.

Private Schools Terms Govt Inspections Wrongful

Reports from Mandi said that managements of several private schools expressed their anguish over allegations labelled by the student-parent forum. In a meeting with authorities of the Education Department, they claimed that annual fee hikes are not as high as alleged by the forum.  The schools said it’s absolutely wrong to term them as looters. Justifying annual hikes, they said that in order to provide facilities to students and to hike salaries of teachers every year, it becomes unavoidable to make hikes in school fees and funds.

Association of Private Schools in the State has submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister and warned that they would stage a protest at the Directorate of Higher Education, Shimla, if these inspections weren’t stopped. 

The Association alleged that the government did not provide them with any aid despite fulfilling criteria of reserving 25 percent seats for poorer section of society.

The Association argued that the government’s interference in deciding fees of these schools is unwanted and wrongful as they do not receive any funds. They also argued that parents send their children to private schools willingly.

The Association asked that if the schools are not running as per the government rules, then how they obtain renewable every year. The Association termed this action as a haphazard response to the protest of the student-parent forum. 

Management or owners of these schools termed it a favor to the society to make quality education accessible to them through private institutes.

Schools Targeting, Mentally Harassing Children: Student-Parent Forum

On Friday, the forum alleged that a reputed private school based in Khalini of Shimla targeted children of those parents who had participated in the protest held on April 8.  The convener of the parents’ forum Vijender Mehra alleged that children complained to their parents that they were threatened in the classroom. The forum demands that action should be taken against this school under the Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act 2005.  Also, it violates rights and protections given to children under Article 39(f) of the Constitution.

 Mehra, who had been leading back-to-back protests against various schools and the Education Department, terms it a victory of the parents who came together to protest. He expects that now parents would receive some relief.

The forum is demanding that the Department should ensure solid action at the ground level.  The forum has warned of more protests if the government tried to manipulate the situation to protect private schools.

Enrolling children to private schools is a huge financial burden on parents.  Deteriorating quality of education being provided in government schools has facilitated the monopoly of private schools. The people do not trust government schools when it comes to education and the future of their children. The government’s will to improve academic standards in public schools is absent. At the same time, the government had been avoiding regulation of private institutes in the State.

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