Outrage over brutal murder of RTI activist/SC leader in Himachal, role of state police in question again
Shimla: The case of the alleged murder of Kedar Singh Jindan in Shillai region of Sirmaur district on Friday is becoming more complex as more details are pouring in from his wife Hem Lata, locals and various organizations and groups that have come out in protest, demanding a fair investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Social and RTI activist and the Scheduled Cast Community are terrorized as well as enraged over the alleged murder of Kedar, who was also one of the SC leaders and an advocate by profession. Kedar was the sole bread earner of the family. He has left behind two daughters and a wife.
Related Story: RTI activist murdered in Himachal in broad daylight, had exposed a BPL fraud
Though two persons were arrested for the alleged murder, the Himachal Pradesh Police has again come under the scanner of the people as it is being alleged that this brutal murder was planned in connivance with local police.
The terrorized family of the slain activist had requested a post-mortem of the body in Shimla alongwith shifting the investigation of the case from Sirmaur.
After the post-mortem at the Indira Gandhi Medical College & Hospital on Saturday, protestors including the Member of Legislative Assembly Rakesh Singha tried to carry the dead body of Kedar to the Chief Minister’s residence but were stopped by police on the Shimla Ridge Maidan.
The protestors placed the body in the Rain Shelter and continued their protest throughout the night in rain. The Deputy Inspector General, Asif Jalal, had come and meet the protestors. The protestors including the wife of the victim labelled serious allegations against the police for its failure to provide security to her murdered husband despite the fact that he had already requested security from police.
The family alleged that a couple of months ago, Kedar had already requested the police to provide him security as he had been receiving threats to his life. He had named several people who were threatening him. Moreover, he was assaulted at least on two to three occasions earlier too. Despite it, the family alleged, the police did nothing.
My husband was the only bread earner and now there is nobody in the family to take care. He had already asked for security as he was threatened for life and police did not take any action. He was attacked by these people earlier also,
the wife of Kedar told media.
Kedar, who was an RTI activist, social worker, leader of Schedule Caste community, and a politician, was allegedly hacked to death in a brutal manner on Friday. Afterwards, he was crushed under an SUV deliberately in broad daylight in Bakras in Shillai.
It was also alleged that before running-over Kedar with an SUV (Scorpio) owned by a member of panchayat Jai Prakash, more than two people assaulted him with iron rods.
In June 2018, Kedar had exposed a big fraud in the registration of families under the Below Poverty Line scheme and had demanded a probe into the matter. He had alleged that about six families of a panchayat in Sirmaur were able to get government jobs using fraud BPL certificates. The arrested accused belonged to one of these families and was a member of the panchayat (up-pradhan).
Though district police is not commenting over the case saying the investigation is under progress, the State president of Welfare Association of Schedule Caste and Tribe Employees, Sita Ram Bansal said there were some eyewitnesses too. One of them was said to have asked for security as the accused belong to influential families.
The Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj and the DIG met the protestors early morning on Saturday and assured that as per provisions, the family would be given Rs 20 lakh compensation, government job to victim’s wife, and free education to children upto graduation. It was only after this confirmation that the protestors allowed the body to be carried for cremation.
Under pressure from the protestors, the DIG had to make calls to administrative officials on the spot to confirm the details of the relief to be given to the family.
Further, Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch held a protest in Nahan demanding a judicial probe.
Kedar Cremated under Heavy Security
On Sunday, the dead body of Kedar was taken to his native village Paab in Shillai where he was cremated. A large number people including MLA Rakesh Singh and several activists attended the funeral. The SP, Sirmaur, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Paonta Sahib, and some other administrative officials were also present.
The trust of the people in government and in the state police is again put to a test, especially what happened in Shimla’s Gudia case. It is to be seen how swiftly the government and police work to provide security to the family and the eyewitnesses if any.
HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government employees working in different departments before January 3, 2022, would be given a higher scale at par with other employees on completion of two years tenure of regular service. A higher pay scale was also announced for the Junior Office Assistants (IT) on completion of two years of regular service.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur made these announcements during the Karamchari Maha Sammelan of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation at the hotel Peterhof on Sunday.
He appreciated the role played by the employee especially frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic.
He said most of the government employees in the state have been given revised pay scales and on average, every employee has got the benefit of a 12 to 15 percent salary hike. There has also been an increase in the pension of about 1.50 lakh pensioners of the state. The financial benefits of Rs. 7801 crore have been given to state government employees and pensioners from the year 2018 to 2022. The pensioners who retired before 2016 are getting the benefit of a 15 to 20 percent increase in the pension while around 40 thousand pensioners who retired after 2016 would be benefitted soon, he said.
He said the daily wages were Rs. 210 in the year 2017 which has been increased by the present state government to Rs. 350. Similarly, 12 per cent interim relief annually has been provided to government employees and pensioners during the present government’s tenure. He said the Himachal government has provided Dearness Allowance to its employees and pensioners on the lines of Punjab and Central governments from the due date. The Punjab government has given only 5 percent interim relief to the employees while the Himachal government has provided 21 percent interim relief to its employees.
“Out of the total interim relief amount given to the employees and pensioners amounting to about Rs. 6500 crore, Rs. 3500 crore has been paid during the tenure of our government” added the Chief Minister.
He said that the state government has increased the government contribution for NPS employees from 10 percent to 14 percent benefitting more than one lakh employees. The NPS employees are being given the benefits of retirement and death gratuity at par with employees falling under the old pension scheme. The government has also increased the upper limit of death gratuity from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
The Chief Minister said the state government has also increased the honorarium of para-workers working in various departments. The salary of outsource workers has been hiked by Rs 1,500 per month.
Non-Gazetted Employees Federation President Ashwani Thakur thanked the Chief Minister for providing various financial and other benefits to different categories of government employees.
Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue
New Delhi-The Centre has issued a notification to the States informing that the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31. The Union Health Ministry said that the use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue.
It implies that most of the Covid-related rules and restrictions would end.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the notification which said that the decision was taken following the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.
The DM Act was invoked on March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic
“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the notification said.
“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at a local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the notification said.
The Indian government had issued various guidelines and measures for the first time on March 24, 2020, under the Disaster Management Act to curb the COVID-19 situation in the country, which have been modified several times thereafter.
India currently has 23,087 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 1,778 new cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has also declined to 0.28%.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Country Liquor Made Cheaper in New Excise Policy, Read All Decisions
Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on March 20, 2022, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The excise policy for the financial year 2022-23 was approved. Approval was also given for the renewal of retail excise vends in the state for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend.
The State Government said that wants to enhance the government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.
The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees have been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers.
In the new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. According to the government, this step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure the supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of the existing price.
In this year’s policy, the Gaudhan Vikas Nidhi Fund has been enhanced by Re.1/- from the existing Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50.
The fixed annual license fee of Bars has been rationalized by abolishing the area-specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State, there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.
Rates of the annual fixed license fee of Bars in the tribal areas has been reduced considerably.
Further, all the above stakeholders will have to install CCTV cameras at their establishments as it was made mandatory for them.
Wholesale vends and retail vends, the penalty provisions under the H.P. Excise Act, 2011 have been made more stringent.
An end to end online Excise Administration System would be established in Himachal Pradesh, the government said.
HP Government estimates a collection of Rs 2131 crore revenue during the year, which will be Rs. 264 crores higher than the financial year 2021-22 – growth of 14% in state excise revenues.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to amend Himachal Pradesh Disaster Relief Manual-2012 to include deaths due to biting of honey bees, hornet and wasps, accidental drowning and deaths due to accidents of vehicles (including land, water and air) under this Manual.
The Cabinet gave its approval for filling up 11 posts of ‘A’ Class Tehsildar in Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission.
HP State Toll Policy 2022-23
The HP Cabinet also gave its nod to HP State Toll Policy for the year 2022-23 which envisages auction cum tender for all the toll barriers in the State. During the year 2021-22, toll revenue has registered a growth of 20 percent of the previous year’s revenue.