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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.

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Himachal: Cloudbursts, Landslides Claim 9 Lives in 48 Hours, 7 Still Missing, Met Issues Alert Till August 1st  

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monsoon damage in himachal pradesh 2021

Shimla-Monsoon continues to pummel Himachal Pradesh with deadly ferocity, leading to more cloudbursts, landslides, and flash floods. Several rivers and rivulets are in spate. Incessant rains could bring more destruction as the HP Meteorological Department has forecast widespread heavy rains till August 1st. While a red alert was issued for July 28, an orange alert has been issued for July 29 and July 30 and a yellow alert for July 31st and August 1st.

An advisory has been issued for locals and tourists to not venture near the river banks and avoid unnecessary travel as incessant rains could lead to more landslides, flash floods, and uprooting of trees.  However, tourists could be seen resolutely ignoring these warnings and partying near river banks and water bodies.

As devastation unfolds, the death toll due to monsoon induced calamities has reached nearly 200, while damages to property were assessed to be in hundreds of crores. Over 350 roads, including Manali-Leh, Pathankot-Chamba, and Shimla-Kalka, were blocked due to landslides.  Half a dozen bridges, as many as 30 houses and several vehicles were destroyed. Hundreds of tourists were reportedly struck in Lahaul.

lahaul-spiti cloudburst

After a flash flood in Dharamshala, a massive landslide in Shahpur constituency, and a horrid rockslide in Kinnaur district that killed nine tourists and injured four people, a cloudburst triggered a flash flood in Lahaul-Spiti district on Tuesday that washed away over a dozen of people, who were said to be labourers.  

cloudburst in lahaul-spiti

According to the Director of the State Disaster Management, Sudesh Kumar, at the time of writing this report, seven bodies had been recovered while four others were missing. The cloudburst occurred over Tonzin nallah in the Lahaul region of the tribal district. Rescue operations were in progress to trace missing persons.

A team of the National Disaster Response Force, which was on its way to Lahaul-Spiti through road, remained stuck in Mandi for several hours.  

On Wednesday morning, cloudburst was reported in Kullu district resulting in deluging of Bhramhaganga – a tributary of Parvati river. A  tourist, a 25-year-old mother along with her 4-year-old son, and a hydropower official came in its spate and were yet to be traced. Beas river was also in spate and people living in shanties on its bank were evacuated. 

Beas in spate

Rackham area in Kinnaur district also reported heavy losses due to a cloudburst on Wednesday morning.

While a rockslide killed one person in Chamba’s Saluni, a helper tagged with a JCB deployed for clearing Bharmaur-Pathankot National Highway was swept away by gushing waters of a nullah on Tuesday night. His body was recovered on Wednesday.

In Shimla, a landslide between Vikasnagar and Panthaghati crushed a vehicle and caused damaged to some others. Gumma khud in Chirgaon was also in spate and reportedly swept away a bridge and about four vehicles. 

landslide in shimla crushed car

Dharamsala received the highest 122 mm of rain, followed by Una 119 mm. In Solan district, Kasauli and Nalagarh also received over 105 mm rain. 

This widespread destruction has worried climatologists and environmentalists who are linking increased instances of landslides and cloudburst to environmental degradation and destabilization of hills due to developmental projects, including cutting of hills for widening of roads, construction of four lanes, hydropower projects etc. 

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Kinnaur: Massive Landslide Caught on Camera, Kills 9 Tourists, Injures 4, Destroys Bailey Bridge

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kinnaur landslide in batseri

Kinnaur: A massive landslide in Batseri on Sangla-Chitkul road in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday killed nine persons and injured at least four others. Huge boulders rolled down the mountain following the landslide and destroyed an iron Bailey bridge and many vehicles parked along the road within a few seconds.

A tourist vehicle, which was reportedly carrying about 11 tourists from Delhi NCR, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Chattisgarh, was hit by boulders near Gunsa, killing nine tourists. A couple of videos of this heart-wrenching incident went viral on social media. In the video, some people can be heard whistling and shouting to warn others.

“Nine people died, and three were injured after boulders rolled downhill due to a landslide in Kinnaur district. Batseri bridge collapsed in the incident. A rescue team is present at the spot,” Superintendent of Police (SP), Kinnaur, Saju Ram Rana said.

The intensity with which boulders hit could be assessed from the fact that the iron bailey bridge on the Baspa river collapsed instantly. 

Video of landlside in himachal pradesh

On receiving the information, teams of district police and Indo-Tibetan Border Police rushed to the spot and initiated a rescue operation. The district administration was also assessing the situation. As per reports, rocks sliding down from the hilltop made the rescue operation difficult for the teams.

sangla valley landslide

As per initial reports, a request was made to make a helicopter available to aid rescue work, which was yet to be fulfilled.

landslide in himachal pradesh

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur also expressed grief over the incident. An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh was announced for the deceased while injured would be given Rs. 50 thousand.

The exact cause behind the landslide was yet to be ascertained.

The deceased were identified as:

  1. Pratiksha Sunil Patil (27) from Sadhbhawna Nagar, Nagpur, Maharashtra
  2. Deepa Sharma (34) from Jaipur
  3. Amoghi Bapat (27) from Korba Darri in Chhatisgarh
  4. Umrab Singh (42) of Tagore Garden West Delhi
  5. Kumar Ulhas vedpathak (37)
  6. Anurag Biyani (31) from Sikar in Rajasthan, his mother Maya Devi Biyani (55) and his sister Richa Biyani (25)
  7. Satish Katakbar (34) from Chhatisgarh.

Those injured have been identified as Shiril Obroy (39) from West Delhi, Naveen Bhardwaj (37) from Kaharar in Mohali and Ranjeet Singh (45) from Batseri in Sangla.

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Himachal Reports Rise in Covid Deaths, No Vaccine for 18-44 Age Group Till July 22

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vaccination of youth in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh has reported a rise in daily casualties during the last three days. While 437 new cases were detected, 10 persons succumbed to the infection. in the last three days. According to the HP Health Department, state’s positivity rate for the last week – from July 5-July 11- was 1.0. Compared to a total of eight deaths in the entire week, Himachal has reported 10 deaths in the last three days of the ongoing week.

The State’s Covid death tally has now reached 3486. The number of active cases was 1150 on Thursday. The daily sampling remains between ten 10,000 to 15,000.

The state government has further discontinued vaccination for the 18-44 age group till 22 July. However, vaccination of other groups will continue. 

Himachal’s tourist spots continue to receive a large number of visitors daily. During the last month, after the HP government lifted all restrictions on inter-state movement, tourists had been over-crowding popular tourist destinations, especially Dharamshala, Shimla, and Manali, to such an extent that the Union Health Ministry, as well as, the Prime Minister had to warn states over the violation of guidelines regarding the “Covid-Appropriate Behavior”.

As both locals and tourists were observed to have become carefree and caring a little about social distancing or creating large gatherings, the state government on July 14 issued a fresh advisory to follow the “Covid-19 Appropriate Behavior” (CAB) to mitigate the third wave.

However, a widespread lack of awareness has been reported, due to which the public is not taking the warnings of the third wave and CAB guidelines seriously.  

In several instances, the state government found itself helpless in preventing large gatherings and violation of CAB guidelines. Over-crowded buses and carriage vehicles, for instance, is a common scene against the permitted capacity of 50%. The health experts had been insisting that successful implementation of SOPs at the mass level is not possible without the co-operation of the people. However, the current methods of the state government for creating awareness has failed to appeal to the majority of the people, which is making compliance of guidelines next to impossible. 

 

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