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Outrage over brutal murder of RTI activist/SC leader in Himachal, role of state police in question again

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RTI Activist murder in Himachal pradesh

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.

RTI Activist Kedar Singh Jindal Murdered

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.

Misc News/Press Release

CM Jairam Thakur Tests Positive for COVID-19, Quarantined

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HImachal Pradesh CM Tests Positive for COVID-19

Shimla-Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jairam Thakur, have tested positive for COVID-19 and has been quarantined at his official residence. The report was confirmed by the Chief Minister through a tweet in which he informed that he was under quarantine at his residence after coming into contact with a COVID-19 positive person. On the appearance of symptoms, he got himself tested and the report was found to be positive, he informed.

According to the initial report, the Chief Minister had come in contact with some COVID-19 positive persons in Manali. MLA of Banjar, Surinder Shourie, who was positive for COVID-19 had participated in the event organized on the occasion of the inauguration of Rohtang Tunnel, had also tested positive. Shourie had spent the entire day with the Chief Minister, reports said.

His private secretary had also tested positive, and there are chances that the Chief Minister might have contracted the infection from him. However, there is no certainty regarding the contact who infected the Chief Minister.

Other than Chief Minister, three Cabinet ministers – Urban Development Minister Suresh Bharadwaj, Power Minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary, Jalshakti Minister Mahender Singh- have tested positive so far.  Over ten MLAs have already tested positive and some of them have recovered too.

Meanwhile, despite community spread, the testing and tracing seem to have fallen and the fatality rate has witnessed a steep rise. Till 12 pm today, the COVID-19 death tally for the state was 245, and the total number of cases registered was 17414. But these are official statistics and these numbers are likely to be much higher. 

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Himachal: COVID-19 Kills 59 in 9 Days, Govt Still Clueless About Actual Number of Cases

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Himachal PRadesh Jairam Thakur

Shimla-COVID-19 continue to wreak havoc in Himachal Pradesh as the death tally spirals upward rapidly. Currently, 240 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Fifty nine of these deaths have been reported during the last nine days of October month, which is quite alarming. But contrary to that, the attitude of the state government, as well as, the public is becoming more casual. The SOPs issued by the government are hardly being followed anywhere. The fact that with the community spread, the cases of COVID-19 are falling in the official information released by the state Health Department.

On October 9, the Department traced only 199 cases but reported seven deaths. The total number of active cases was cited to be 2856. The deceased included three females and four males aged between 49 -75 years. View details of the deceased in the below-given table:

Shimla-covid-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

The total number of cases, as per the official statistics, had reached 16977 till yesterday evening (9 PM). But these are official statistics and the real number is likely to be much higher due to a community spread. Similarly, the actual number of COVID-19 deaths could be higher than the official statistics. Despite it, the state government is reluctant to release any projection regarding the real numbers. No statements have been issued regarding the current situation and strategy to combat the rising fatality rate. Rather, the state appears to be refraining from bringing up the matter.

The oppositions, HP Congress and CPI (M), are targeting the government over its failure to combat the spread of COVID-19. However, this opposition is quite feeble and hasn’t resulted in any reforms in the attitude of the government.

In a statement to media, Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla and a senior CPI (M) leader, said that the rise in fatalities is the result of the government’s lackadaisical attitude. The suicide committed by a positive patient at the DDU COVID-19 hospital is evidence of it, he said. He said this approach has endangered health lives of ministers, officials, and the staff at their offices. Further, he said, health staff, paramedical staff, and police staff are getting infected, and even losing lives due to the government’s unpreparedness.  The government had even compromised the safety of the Prime Minister and Education Minister by violating norms set regarding COVID-19, he said.

HP Congress chief, Kuldeep Rathor also expressed shock over the presence of COVID-19 positive MLA of Banjar, Surender Shourie, in the event organized for the PM. He alleged that by violating all norms, the MLA concealed information regarding his COVID-19 positive status and did not quarantine himself, which reflects the state government’s attitude toward management of the corona pandemic. He had demanded registration of an FIR against Shourie and action against erring officials.

Sanjay Chauhan, further said that the government did not prepare itself to combat the pandemic the way it was expected to. The people of the state had followed the lockdown and sacrificed their livelihood with a hope that the government would prepare itself during this period to combat the spread and to strengthen the health infrastructure and services. But instead, the government indulged itself in making people clap and beat ‘thalis’.  The Chief Minister adopted and preached unscientific practices like performing a ‘havan’.  Despite a steep rise in fatalities, the government is still not serious about the situation, he said. 

He said the CPI (M) demands that the government starts working on war footing to prepare a strategy by involving health experts, strengthening the health services by recruiting doctors, para-medical and other staff, and constitute a task force to deal with the situation. The government should work diligently on following the norms set for prevention from COVID-19, he added.  

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Shocker for Himachal as Ex-CBI Chief & Governor Ashwani Kumar Found Dead at His Shimla Residence

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Himachal IPS Officer Ashwani Kumar found deat in shimla

Shimla-Ashwani Kumar – 1973 IPS officer from Himachal Pradesh cadre who had served as the Director-General of HP Police (2006-2008) and CBI chief (August 2008 to November 2010), and was later appointed the Governor of Nagaland in 2013-was found dead at his residence in Shimla on Wednesday evening. The news came as a shocker as Kumar was considered as one of India’s finest and honest officers.

Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Mohit Chawala, in statement to news agencies, confirmed the report. According to the initial report, he reportedly hanged himself and ended his life. However, no formal statement was issued regarding the suicide. According to the police, a suicide note was also recovered from the spot. However, the note was yet to be verified.

Kumar was a well known name as he had dealt with famous cases including that of Arushi Talwar murder and fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in which current Home Minister Amit Shah was arrested in 2010.

He was one of the first appointees made to resign from the post of Governor, Nagaland, as soon as the current ruling party came into power in 2014. He also remained Governor of Manipur for a short period of time. After his retirement, Kumar was serving as the Vice-Chancellor of a private university in Shimla.

The officials who have served under Aswani Kumar have expressed shock over his demise in such a manner. 

Director-General of Police, Sanjay Kundu, and a team of medical staff was rushed to the spot. More details are awaited as the district police have not issued any formal statement regarding the incident.

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