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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 9 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 the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Enraged Protesters Barge Into MD HRTC Office Over Poor Bus Services, Leaves Staff Speechless




Protest at MD HRTC Office

Shimla– After the tragic Banjar bus accident that killed 46 people and left about 37 injured and the school bus accident in Shimla‘s Khalini in which two students and the driver were killed, the Himachal Pradesh Government may have shown some strictness towards overloading, but it forgot to ensure delivery of additional services to facilitate commuters. Protests, especially from the student community are frequently being reported in newspapers and media portals.

Surprisingly, this strictness is limited to Himachal Pradesh Road Corporation buses, while private buses continue to ply overloaded. The public in rural areas is suffering a lot because of this faulty policy of the government. The people complain that even if no one is standing in buses, HRTC conductor or police do not let them board these buses.  The situation has worsened to a level that people are now feeling harassed due to inefficiency and lack of vision of the state government.

The locals from Shimla district had submitted a memorandum regarding the shortage of staff in HRTC and problem they are facing due to suspension of routes without any prior notice to the government through Managing Director, HRTC a couple of days ago. Shockingly, they were not given any response.

Eventually, on Thursday, aggrieved by and enraged over an acute shortage of bus services and harassment in the name of overloading, villagers from various parts of Shimla district gathered at the Old ISBT of Shimla to meet the Managing Director, HRTC. Their anger was fueled as soon as they found that the MD was not present in his office. Led by senior leaders of Communist Party of India (Marxist) including former Mayor of Shimla Town, Sanjay Chauhan and Rakesh Singha, a sitting MLA from Theog Constituency, people sat down outside MD ‘s office and staged an aggressive protest.

Watch How Protesting Locals Left HRTC Staff Speechless

The villagers alleged that while several HRTC routes were suspended in various parts of the district without any prior notice, private buses are encashing on the opportunity by overloading, to which Police is showing a blind eye. The villagers also alleged that in the name of overloading, the passengers are forced out of HRTC buses without provision of adequate services. At the same time, they alleged, the government is allowing overloading in private buses. 

Villagers complained that their vegetable produce is rotting either because the bus routes to their areas were suspended without information or the frequency of HRTC buses plying to the area was reduced to twice or thrice a week. In addition, the problem of not allowing them to load their produce in busses beacuse of the overloading gimmick was just adding to their woes.

Villagers also alleged that school students in rural areas are compelled to miss their classes, even exams due to lack of bus services.

“The number of girl students who have left school and are sitting at home because of the paucity of bus services is in thousands. Their schools are located at a distance of two to three hours, and without bus services, it is not possible for them to travel to schools and back home from schools. These students are dragged out of HRTC buses in the name of overloading but no additional service is provided to them,”

said one of the locals.  

“Biometrics are installed at offices for attendance nowadays. The employees are not able to reach office on time and their attendance is suffering,

said another local present among protestors.   

Later, when the Managing Director arrived at his office and met the protestors, he admitted that HRTC is facing a shortage of drivers and conductors which is adversely affecting bus services in several routes.  The MD agreed to the demand of restoring services on routes where only single buses were plying.

The protestors ended their protest only after the MD assured them to take effective steps to curb the shortage of HRTC bus service. The protestors warned the MD of more aggressive protests if adequate services are not delivered within a week.

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Strict Vigil on Unauthorized Parking, No Parking in Areas Children Board, Deboard School Buses: CM



Jairam thakur's statement on school bus accident

Shimla-After witnessing outrage among people over the accident of school bus in Shimla district’s Khalini that devoured three persons including two students and the driver and left five others injured, the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur called a meeting. Apparently, due to lapses on its part that played a major role in causing the accident, the State government came under heavy pressure. The Chief Minister had to make some announcements like it was done after the Nurpur school bus accident that had killed 24 children and three others in 2018 and the recent Banjar bus accident that killed 46 passengers.

In today’s announcement, the government assured that in Shimla town, parking will be allowed on one side of the road with yellow line and unauthorized parking will be dealt with strictly.
As done in such cases, a magisterial probe was also ordered.

He said signboards regarding ‘Authorized Parking Zone’ as well as ‘No Parking Zone’ would be erected in the town. It’s pertinent to mention that erection of signboards doesn’t work until these rules are implemented. In Shimla city, vehicles can be seen parked right in front of no parking signboards.

Further, he added that the work on three big parking slots in the town would be expedited whereas district administration and Municipal Corporation, Shimla would identify locations particularly in residential areas where small parking could be developed. This would not only ensure proper parking place for the commuters but also help in decongesting the city roads, he added.

District administration and Municipal Corporation were directed to identify parking areas with yellow line alongside the roads and sites where small parking slots could be developed by 10th July, this year. He said that the state government would also explore various aspects to allow private parking by individuals within the setbacks so that ample parking space could be developed.

He said that all the government offices should ensure that they have their own parking with sufficient space so that their vehicles could be accommodated thereby avoiding decongestion of main roads. He said that parking within a radius of 50 meters would not be allowed in such places where school children embark and disembark their school buses.

A massive Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities would be carried out in the state to sensitize the people regarding road safety, he said. The narrow roads would be identified and steps would be taken for widening the same, he assured.

It was informed in the meeting that over 1,65,000 vehicles are plying daily in the Shimla town. Therefore it is the need of the hour that alternative roads are constructed for the convenience of the people.

The Chief Minister said that rupees five lakh are being provided to the next of kin of the deceased besides free medical treatment to the injured.

Like he had assured after the Nurpur bus accident, the Chief Minister again said that the condition of transport vehicles would be ensured properly and laxity in this regard would not be tolerated at any cost. All the school buses would be regularly monitored and school management would be sensitized about the safety guidelines.

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Shimla School Bus Accident Again Exposes Serious Lapses on Govt’s Part



Causes of Shimla School Bus Accident

Shimla-After two weeks of tragic accidents of the overloaded private bus in Banjar of Kullu district in which 46 people had died and 37 were injured, the accident of the school bus in Jhinjhari of Shimla district has yet again exposed lapses on the part of the district administration as well as the State government.

Serious questions are being raised on the working of the government and its attitude toward the safety of passengers in public and private transport. The biggest shocker was the statement of the Transport Minister he had given prior to any investigation in which he had tried to protect the owner of the private bus.

This time, three persons including two students and the driver were killed. The accident occured when the bus fell into a 500 feet gorge while the driver tried to drive through a congested spot on the road. The Bus driver, Naresh Thakur, died on the spot. Two students of the Convent of Jesus and Mary School — Manya and Mehul, both aged between 13-15 years — succumbed to their injuries later on.

The primary reason given by the locals for the accident is congestion created on the already narrow road by wrongly parked vehicles and lack of roadside safety measures like parapets or crash-barriers. In fact, the matter related to the absence of roadside safety measures had been popping up after several fatal road accidents. However, neither the previous government nor the current government considered it a priority.

If the government had attended to these demands and, at least, installed crash-barriers, this accident could have been prevented, the locals exerted.

A wave of rage erupted among the locals, who even gheraoed the Education Minister who had arrived to visit the spot of the accident. He faced severe backlash and had to flee the scene after facing enraged locals.

The locals also smashed windows of the cars parked along the roadside. Following it, they staged a protest near Khalini and blocked the Khalini-Jhinjhari road. Reportedly, media persons, too, faced protest from the locals, who pelted stones at them.

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At the same time, another shocking fact has come into the light. The HRTC bus was in a dilapidated state and its insurance had also expired. As per the former Mayor of Shimla town, Sanjay Chauhan, the bus was introduced in 2008 under JNNURM and was supposed to be decommissioned about three years ago. The bus faced frequent mechanical failures, the locals alleged. The bus driver had complained a fault with the steering a couple of weeks ago.

It’s worth a reminder that after coming into power, despite a debt of Rs 49,000 crore, the state government had bought several sport utility vehicles (SUV) worth over 30 lakh each. However, public transport is left on the mercy of poorly maintained, old buses.

The Akhil Bharatiya Janwadi Mahila Samiti, in a press note released today, alleged that the locals had brought the matter of road congestion due to wrong parking to the attention of district administration about three years ago. It said, the administration was told that the road is vulnerable to accidents, and demand for installation of parapets/crash-barriers was also raised.

The locals had even undertaken a week-long campaign against roadside parking. Signatures of a large number of locals were taken to highlight the matter. The road was declared as a ‘no parking zone’ after this campaign. But this campaign could not deter people from roadside parking for more than a couple of weeks. The administration also neglected the issue and showed complete laxity on its part.

If the administration had listened to the people, the lives lost today could have been easily saved.

The locals also alleged that the administration never bothered to take in to account the rising population in the area and requirement for parking space.

Sitting MLA, Theog, Rakesh Singha, also termed it as a failure of state government. He said that the real cause of each accident needs to be ascertained but the fact remains the state government has failed to prevent repeated accidents of buses in Himachal Pradesh.

“The major cause of accidents is bad conditions of roads, worn out vehicles having crossed seven lakhs kilometers mileage, failure to provide sufficient workshop staff to undertake timely maintenance and repair of vehicles, massive shortage of drivers and conductors leading to stress conditions of the available staff to carry out the operation of the regular bus route services,”

Singha said.

While Mahila Samiti has demanded a compensation of not less than Rs 20 lakh to the families of the three victims who died in the accident, Sigha has also asked the government to pay compensation beyond the set paraments.

“Loss of life cannot be compensated in terms of money but the state must provide relief beyond the parameters set by it and rupees ten lacks must be the minimum that is expected of any elected government,”

he said.

The Student-Parents forum, that has been demanding implementation of various rules in private schools including the deployment of their own school buses, staged an aggressive protest at the Directorate of the Higher Education. The forum said that it is mandatory rule for every CBSE affiliated school to provide students with its own school buses, which is hardly being followed. The angry members of the forum entered the office of the Director, which was followed by heated arguments. The forum asked why the Directorate has failed to implement directions of the State High Court passed in April 2018 regarding the safety of school children.
Student-Parent forum at HP Education Directorate

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur repeated the usual statement assuring strict action against those who were responsible for the accident. However, now the people appear to have fed up with hollow promises and actions that are taken only in papers.

The opposition Congress, who had been a failure itself (in matters related to road safety) during its tenure, also opened an attack on the current BJP government and demanded the resignation of the Transport Minister.

The continued slumber of the government suggests that loss of lives hardly rings a bell for its officials. Their actions and remedies remain confined to documents and magisterial probes, which are not made public, like the Nurpur school bus accident and the one reported in Kullu’s Banjar.

If the government is actually serious about road safety, then it should undertake an extensive campaign to ensure that all roads are protected by crash-barriers, speed regulators are made mandatory for the public and private buses, old, dilapidated buses are replaced with new once, and black spots are fixed as soon as possible.

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