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Shimla MC’s move to privatise sanitation work in controversy over hiring of Rohingya refugees

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Rohingya refugees in Shimla as sanitation workers

Shimla: The alleged entry of Rohingya refugees into Shimla as new sanitation workers after the Municipal Corporation decided to outsource the service from July 1, 2018, has sparked a controversy.

The private company is bringing workers from other states like Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir, but it did not care about verifying their identity.  At the same time, Shimla MC also caught off-guard as it also became care-free after outsourcing the work. 

The SMC has outsourced the sanitation work in five Wards; Tutu, Majyath, Tutikandi, Boileauganj, Kachhi Ghati. The company hired about 40 workers, who were brought from other states. Out of these 40, about 22 were Rohingya refugees, the reports said.   

The Mayor washed her hands-off saying she was not aware of the identification of the workers hired by the company for the sanitation work of her town. 

Further, MC has now decided that no refugees would be hired.  

The private company reportedly justified that he was not aware that they were refugees. He said about five people, who were carrying an identity card of the issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had approached him to seek the job. 

These refugees do not possess any identification given by the Indian government, it was alleged.

Questions have been raised over the functioning of security agencies and the State Police Department. As per allegations, the SMC, district administration, police, and security agencies were unaware of the fact that refugees have entered Shimla without their knowledge.

The district administration and police department have begun an investigation of the allegations. The contractor has been summoned by the Deputy Commissioner Amit Kashyap and Superintendent of Police Ompati Jamwal.

The Mayor has been directed to verify the identity of workers being brought by the company. 

Meanwhile, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Pramod Shukla, said the refugees had returned to J&K and were expected to come back with more workers. He said currently there was no refugee present in Shimla. 

Hire Locals as Sanitation Workers: VHP

The State President of the Vishav Hindu Parishad in Himachal Pradesh has also issued a statement terming these refugees as a threat to the internal security of the state.

The VHP has also questioned the move to hire workers from another state instead of providing employment to locals. 

It’s pertinent to mention that about 40 locals employed as workers with the Shimla Heritage, Environment & Beautification Society have already quite the job as a protest against the privatization. 

Who are Rohingya Refugees?

Rohingya refugees are said to be the result of what was described as one of the largest exoduses of people in which about 500,000 people had to flee the country to take refuge in border areas of the neighbouring countries. It happened after a massacre of the people of Rohingya ethnic group.

Rohingya had been living in Myanmar’s Rakhine state for several decades alongside Buddhist population. Their population was estimated to be around 10 lakh. They are not treated as citizens of Myanmar, they do not enjoy rights like citizens, and their access to health, education, supplies, group activities etc. has always remained restricted. They are believed to be Bangladeshi Muslims who were not recognized as citizens by their government and were forced to migrate to Myanmar.

As per the reports of the UN, after facing decades of atrocities including the brutal rape of their women and minor girls, a militant group appeared as a reaction to this long persecution. On August 25, 2017, a genocide begins in Rohingya after the government of Myanmar alleged that this militant group, which was allegedly supported by Rohingya people, launched an attack on security posts and killed a dozen of soldiers.

Though the government refuted the allegations, the UN reports have suggested that armed forces were not only after the militants responsible for attacks but were also raped women and minor girls and slaughtered about 1,000 Rohingya people in the Rakhine state.

As per UNO, these people are one of the most persecuted ethnic groups and have endured atrocities on the hand of the majority for several decades.

These refugees also sought refuge in India; however, the government remained sceptical about them under pressure from internal organizations that termed them as a potential threat to the security of India.

The government had told the Supreme Court that it does not want India to become a refugee capital of the world. As per officials, there are about 40,000 refugees related to the Rohingya community in India.

The Indian government is in favour of identifying these refugees and deport them back to Myanmar. Also, these refugees were not given access to health care or government programs meant to support their survival and protect their rights.

India is not a signatory of 1951 refugees convention meant to extend help to displaced people.

As per reports, mothers and their newborns are also not receiving sufficient nutrition and a large number of still deaths were reported in the refugee camps.

Senior advocate Ashwini Kumar, who was appearing for two Rohingya migrants had stated that “minimum humanitarian morality” should be shown to the refugees at the border.

We cannot push them back to the jaws of death. You cannot deny a man his right to life. The Supreme Court has to intervene as the ultimate protector of life,

he had submitted.

These refugees fear that they would be either massacred or further persecuted if they were deported back to the conflict zone from where they had to flee to save their lives.

Meanwhile, India has initiated talks with the Myanmar government regarding the deportation of refugees.

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.

Misc News/Press Release

Panic Grips Bilaspur as City Sealed after COVID-19 Positive Man Suspected of Hiding Travel History

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Bilaspur city sealed and declared containment zone

Bilaspur-In district Bilaspur, the Administration on Thursday morning sealed the entire city including Bamta area after declaring it a containment zone. All shops in the market were shut-down and movement of people and vehicles except those falling in exempted categories have been prohibited completely. This sudden move of the administration created stir in the area. 

The areas falling under containment zones include Ward No 11, village Nihal of Gram Panchayat Bamta, HRTC Colony in Ward No 1 of Municipal Council Bilaspur, Danoh and Kosarina village of Bamta, Gurudwara market, Gandhi market and College Chowk markets falling under the MC.

In the buffer zone, all the remaining area that did not fall under the containment zone in Ward No 1 has been declared a buffer zone. Similarly, Kosarian Ward of Bilaspur MC, Nihal-1 upto ITI Bilaspur, main market and Changer sector have also been included in the buffer zone.

The order of declaring the city as a containment zone came after seven persons were reported to have tested positive in Bilaspur on Wednesday evening. According to the district administration and police, one of these persons had not disclosed his travel history and there was a risk that he might have come in contact with others in the city as he was not under institutional quarantine.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Bilaspur, Sanjay Sharma, confirmed the report and said the entire containment area has been sealed and traffic movement brought to a halt. He said action would be taken against any person who would be found moving around in this area without a specific reason.

However, an official confirmation regarding contacts of this person is still awaited. Health officials were tracing the contact history of this person.

According to the notification issued by the district administration on Thursday, no movement of vehicles allowed except those involved in the enforcement of containment plan, emergency services and vehicles passing through NH-205. The passing vehicles through the NH would not be allowed to stop and passengers/driver can’t get out or board anyone in the containment zone.

The supplies of essential goods like milk, groceries, fruits, vegetables, medicines, cooking gas etc. in the above-mentioned containment zone would be made through the Government delivery committee, headed and formed by the SDM concerned, the notification said.

These orders would remain in force till further orders.

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COVID-19 Update: 26 More Test Positive in 4 Districts, 70 in 3 Days, State Tally Rise to 273

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Himachal Pradesh daily COVID-19 data for may 27

Shimla: New COVID-19 cases continue to spiral in Himachal Pradesh. According to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare’s daily COVID-19 bulletin released on May 27 (9:00 PM), 26 persons were tested positive in four districts of the State. Of these, 15 cases were reported from Hamirpur,  seven from Bilaspur, three from Kangra, and one from Una district. In the last three days, the State has reported 70 cases, which is alarming. 

In Hamirpur, five persons hailed from Badsar area, three from Naduan, six from Hamirpur and one from Bhoranj. The majority of them have recently returned from Maharashtra.

Total for Hamirpur district has reached 73 – highest in the State, followed by Kangra with 65 cases.

In Bilaspur, two persons were said to be bus and cab drivers. Details of other patients from the district were awaited.

In Kangra, three persons who tested positive were identified as a 29-year-old resident of Fatehpur, a 30-year-old from Khaniyara, and a resident of Palampur. These people had returned from Delhi and Gurugram recently.

In Una, a person who had returned from Delhi with his family was tested positive.  

Most of the person who tested positive were under institutional quarantine except for three persons in Kuther of Bilaspur district who were home-quarantined.  

Refer to the below-given table for more details on district-wise COVID-19 data:

District-Wise COVID-19 Cases in Himachal Pradesh Till May 27, 2020 (9:00 PM)

Himachal Pradesh District wise Covid-19 data till 27 May

The number of total confirmed positive cases in Himachal has risen to 273, of which 198 are active. So far, 66 patients have recovered, five died, and four migrated to outside the State for treatment.

Further, today 1480 samples were sent for testing, of which 912 tested negative and the reports of 560 persons were still awaited.

 

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COVID-19 Update: Himachal Reports 24 New Cases in 5 Districts, 44 in 2 Days

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Quarantine rules in himachal pradesh for returnees

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh didn’t receive any respite from growing COVID-19 positive cases on May 26 too. According to the State Health Ministry’s daily COVID-19 bulletin, on May 26 (till 9:00 PM), 24 more persons tested positive in five districts. Yesterday, the State had reported 20 cases including a 7-month-old baby.  

Hamirpur, the worst affected district in the State, reported highest 15 cases, taking the district’s COVID-19 tally to 78. Shimla and Kangra reported three cases each. Two tested positive in Chamba and one in Una district.  All patients in Hamirpur had returned from Thane in Maharashtra on May 24 and were under institutional quarantine. The Deputy Commissioner, Hamirpur, Harikesh Meena, confirmed the report. The patients would be shifted to COVID-19 care centres.

Shimla, which remained unaffected during three phases of the lockdown, reported three more cases including two from Chopal area and one from Rohru.  All three are returnees from Maharastra. The senior health official confirmed. Two of them were quarantined in Deha and one in a rest house in Rohru, which have been sealed.

District-Wise COVID-19 Cases in Himachal Pradesh Till May 26, 2020 (9:00 PM)

Himachal Pradesh District wise Covid-19 data till 26 May

In Kangra, three members of a family – husband, wife, and their 7-year-old kid- tested positive. The family had returned from Gujrat on May 20. The DC, Kangra, Rakesh Prajapati, confirmed the report.

In Chamba district, two persons who had returned from Uttar Pradesh on May 20 in a cab, tested positive and were under institutional quarantine in Sarol.

According to the last official update from health ministry at 9:00 PM, the total has risen to 247, of which 175 are active. Of the total, 63 have recovered, five died, and four migrated outside the State. 

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