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RTI activist murdered in Himachal in broad daylight, had exposed a BPL fraud

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RTI Activist Kedar Singh Jindal Murdered

Sirmaur: In a spine-chilling case, Kedar Singh Jindan, an RTI activist from Shillai region of Sirmaur district, was allegedly murdered in broad daylight on Friday afternoon while he was on his way to home. Kedar was over-run by a Scorpio vehicle, which has been seized by the police.

Earlier, the police was considering the possibility of a road accident, but after recovering the car, it arrested two men identified as natives of Bakras panchayat and registered a case under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The Superintendent of Police Rohit Malpani has confirmed filing of a case.

The police had sent the body to Shimla for a postmortem. Some reports suggested he was first beaten and then his head was crushed under the said SUV.

One of the accused Jai Prakash was identified as a member (up-Pradhan) of the Bakras gram panchayat while the second one was identified as Gopal. For now, the police is speculating that the killing was motivated by some previous grudges between the two parties.

Though the police has not confirmed the exact cause, the alleged murder could be related to a alleged BPL fraud Kedar had tried to highlight earlier in June this year. 

Kedar Singh was not only an RTI activist but was also a social worker and SC/ST leader. He was an advocate by profession. He had been raising grievance of Scheduled Caste community from time to time.  In September 2016, Kedar was in news after he held a press conference without his clothes to highlight the poor quality of education being provided in government schools and the lack of facilities in them.  

He had fought the last HP Assembly elections on BSP ticket.

On June 29, 2018, Kedar Singh had held a press conference at the Press Club, Shimla, and had exposed a fraud in the list of families living below poverty line (BPL). In the press conference, Kedar had claimed that an RTI application filed by him has revealed that about six well to do families in the Bakras panchayat having wealth worth crores were wrongfully registered under BPL.

He had alleged that by forging records using his position in the panchayat, Jai Prakash had managed to get government jobs for his family members in government jobs.

Watch Video of Press Conference Held in Shimla on June 29, 2018

Kedar had shown photographs of the bungalow worth over Rs 50 lakh, houses and three vehicles including a Scorpio which the family owned.

He had alleged that neither the previous government nor the current one had taken any sort of action to investigate the matter. He had come heavily upon the panchayat members and the government for unlawfully giving benefits meant for poverty-stricken families to wealthy families through corrupt means.

In the same conference, Kedar had told the media that he had made a complaint to the Anti-Corruption Bureau demanding an inquiry into this alleged fraud. He had demanded action against all culprits involved in issuing fake BPL certificates and officials who helped them get government jobs.

As per reports, Kedar had been attacked earlier on at least five occasions. More details are likely to arrive after the ongoing investigation. 

Misc News/Press Release

Solan Building Collapse: Death Toll Rises to 14 Including 13 Jawans and 1 Civilian, Rescue Operation Concluded

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Solan Building Collapse death toll

Solan-The toll of those killed in the collapse of a multi-storey building yesterday in Kumarhatti of Solan district that also housed a restaurant ‘Sehaj Tandoori Dhaba’ has risen to 14 as the rescue teams recovered more bodies. Over 25 people have been rescued and sent to Dharampur hospital for treatment. The deceased included 13 army jawans and one civilian, confirmed the Vivek Chandel, ADM, Solan. The rescue operation has concluded. As per the administration, total 42 people were trapped including 30 Jawans of Assam Rifles and 12 civilians. 

“Since yesterday, 17 Armymen and 11 civilians have been rescued. Three teams of the National Disaster Response Force have taken over the rescue,”

the Deputy Commissioner KC Chaman told PTI.

The building located on the Nahan-Kumarhatti road that housed a restaurant on one of the floors came down around 4 PM on July 14. As it was Sunday, several army personals of Assam Rifles had come to dine at the restaurant. The hotel owner also lived in the building along with his wife and two children. While the children were playing in the neighbourhood, their mother was present in the building. She reportedly died in the collapse, confirmed Additional SP Shiv Kumar Sharma.

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Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on July 15 also visited the spot and ordered a magisterial probe to ascertain the cause of the collapse. An FIR against the owner of the building has also been registered.
Jairam thakur in solan

With this tragedy, questions are being raised over the legality of the construction. The building that was constructed in 2009 had at least four storeys. One of the storeys, as per reports, was added recently.Some reports suggested that complaints were also filed regarding the construction of this building.

Solan Rescue Operation

Currently, weak foundation and non-compliance with existing rules regarding the construction of buildings are considered as causes of the collapse. However, the district administration officials said the actual causes could only be ascertained after a probe.

Over 250 men of National Disaster Relief Force, District Police, and army jawans from nearby cantonment were continuously carrying out rescue work since yesterday. 

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Misc News/Press Release

2 killed, Several Trapped as Multi-Storey Building Collapses in Solan’s Kumarhatti

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Solan Building Collapse

Solan– A multi-storey building collapsed in Kumarhatti in Solan district today. Twp people said to have been killed. As per initial information available, over 35 people were present inside the building, which is said to be a dhaba (restaurant) when it collapsed. Over 15 persons were pulled out of debris and rescued while several others are feared to be still trapped. The incident occurred during a heavy downpour.


Several of these trapped people included army jawans. The army personnel and their family members were on their way to Uttarakhand and had stopped at the restaurant for lunch, a district official told PTI.

Solan building

As per a Tweet by the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, about 40 people were trapped under the debris. Out of these, 19 were rescued and operation is in progress to rescue others.

Latest update from ANI said that 22 people were rescued. The rescued injured were taken to Dharampur hospital for treatment.

Injured in solan building collapse
As per the district administration, a team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was sent for from Panchkula for carrying out the rescue operation.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Solan, and the Additional District Magistrate had also reached the spot.
Himachal pradesh building collapse

solan

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Shimla’s Popular Baljees Restaurant Shuts Down, Workers Protest Over Unpaid Dues Worth Crores

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Baljees shimla closed, workers protest

Shimla-Today, the iconic Baljees — a 65-years-old restaurant located on the Shimla Mall will be winding up its operation. While the media is highlighting Shimla’s mourning over the closing of Baljees, its 70 workers, who are now rendered jobless, are protesting for the last two days for their unpaid dues. Several of these workers have been serving in the restaurant for over four decades and have contributed a lot towards its growth.

The workers alleged that the restaurant has not paid their dues worth about two crores. As per the workers, these dues include gratuity, bonus, leave encashment, notice pay, retrenchment compensation etc.  However, the Baljees management had earlier assured that all the dues would be cleared before closing.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has also come in support of these workers. It said the Baljees not only violating the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 but also going against the orders passed by the State High Court on July 12, 2018. In its July 12 orders, the court had made it clear that the management of the restaurant would have to pay all the dues before handing over the building to its owner.  In case the management fails to do so, this action would be considered as a contempt of the court orders, the CITU said.

The workers have urged the district administration and district police to make the management of the restaurant comply with the orders of the court. Otherwise, the workers said, they would file a contempt of court petition along with more protests.

 The Baljees, which was considered a destination restaurant, had gained popularity among both locals as well as tourists. Several influential political names from Virbhadra Singh to Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to visit the restaurant, it is said.  

Chandra Baljee had set up this restaurant in 1954. It was expanded in 1972 after which it became famous for Indian and continental food. The decision to close the building had come in 2018 after Baljees management lost the legal battle against the owner of the building, Lok Nath & Sons. The battle had started over operation charges for the building.

In 2015, the District and Sessions Court had ordered eviction. Later, the matter reached the state High Court where operation charges were hiked from Rs 18,000 to 1.35 lakh per month.  However, the owner was demanding. Then, the case reached the Supreme court, and then back to the High Court. Finally, in July 2018, Baljees management and Alok Nath & sons arrived at a mutual compromise. The management decided to evacuate the building and sought one year’s time to wind up its operation. This deadline ended today.   

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