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Jindan Murder: Team of human rights and social activists visits Shillai, makes shocking revelations

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Himachal RTI Activist Murder facts

Sirmaur: The brutal murder of Kedar Singh Jindan – an RTI activist, social worker, and a leader of Scheduled Caste community – in broad daylight and in public view has jolted peaceful State of Himachal Pradesh.

While the police claim to have solved the case and that the accused have confessed their crime, the matter is getting a political color as it relates to the murder of a person who belonged to the SC community and was raising their voices. Amid this, some shocking revelations were made by a seven-member team of state and national level human rights defenders, social workers and activists.

Not only the team rejected the media reports saying that it was not a caste-based vendetta but also alleged that caste discrimination was quite prevalent in the Shillai region.

The findings of the team said that Jindan was even brutally beaten for supporting an inter-caste marriage in the region. The murder was a planned one as it was committed in a public view, it said. Despite being a public scene, only two witnesses have come forward due to the fear of the people involved.

The team visited Sirmaur on the September 13 and 14 to probe the brutal killing of an activist. The team also met the family of the deceased.

The team in no uncertain words condemned the heinous murder of Kedar Singh Jindan, which they said was intended to target the activist who was uncovering corruption and speaking against injustice at the local level.

On September 13, 2018, we visited Paab, the village in Shilai block from where Jindan hailed and interacted with his family members to give our condolences and also let them know that the issue of the murder was being condemned widely

, a team member said.

The team interacted with a large number of people belonging to various communities including the Pradhaan of the Gundaha Panchayat. The team also visited members of the administration and the police.

Kedar Singh Jindan aged 43 years was also a lawyer and had struggled tremendously to complete his education, the team said. He used to run an educational academy at Shilai to train young students. Over the years, he emerged as a voice of the ‘Koli’ (Scheduled Caste) community in the region. He used the RTI Act to uncover information related to local development issues, the team said.

As per the team, in June this year, Jindan had held a press conference in Shimla, in which he had exposed irregularities in providing Below Poverty Line (BPL) certificates in his village and alleged that Jaiprakash (the prime accused in the murder, who also drove the Scorpio over Jindan) had illegally obtained BPL certificates for his well-to-do relatives. Through these certificated, they had also managed to get appointed in government jobs. Jindan obtained all of these details using the RTI Act 2005.

The team further said that after this expose, Jaiprakash’s relatives lost their jobs, which they held against Jindan apart from his other exposes in public services in the area.

On the morning of September 7, Jindan was murdered. Following this, the police had first nabbed two persons on the same day while the third arrest was made a few days later. A Special Investigation Team headed by ASP Nahaan) Virender Thakur was investigating the matter. An FIR was registered under Section 302 (Murder) as well as the section 3(2)(5) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act.

The Superintendent of Police, Rohit Malpani and ASP assured the team that the documentary and forensic evidence in the matter was strong. The police was doing a thorough job to ensure justice for Jindan, they further told the team. The officials appeared confident about solving the case. 

The fact-finding team, however, expressed concern that the police had not responded adequately to the repeated threats received by Jindan from different members of the community who were irked by his work. Last year too there was an attack on Jindan at Sattaun where he was pulled out of a bus and beaten up badly by people for supporting an inter-caste marriage in the area, the team members said. 

Jindan’s family informed us that he was left buried in a heap of sand and left there to die. While he survived that attack, he had exposed that a large number of people from the area were out to get him and they are all complicit in the murder according to the kin of Jindan. This needs to be investigated

, the team said.

As per the team, the observations from various discussions make it obvious that this was not just an incident of a personal vendetta as it’s being claimed in some media reports. Rather, it was a planned targeting of an activist by the dominant community because he was a member of the SC/ST community.

The demand to withdraw the charges under the SC-ST Act is baseless,

the team said.

The team said this remote area of Himachal is known for deep-seated caste discriminatory practices. The fact that the dominant caste groups were defending the murder was a clear sign of the same.

The Khumri Panchayats in the area are like Khap system here where the so-called upper castes take the decisions about everything. Exclusion and discrimination are seen in all spheres here – economic, social, and cultural.

, the team alleged.

Further, the team claimed that the manner in which the incident took place in broad daylight at Bakras on a working day close to the premises of the Block Primary Education Office located next to a school where he was run over by an SUV reveals that this was a case of a murder in full public view.

The fact that there are only two people who have come forward to testify to the murder proves that there is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the area, the team said. The protests by Rajput Sabha in favor of the accused have also polarised the community making it difficult for people to stand up for the truth.

We are shocked that such an incident could occur in a state like Himachal but this also shows that there is an increasing normalization of violence in the society around us. Also shows the vulnerability of people who challenge the status quo or expose those who are powerful even at the village level.

, the team further added.

Kedar Singh Jindan is the 73rd person to be killed for using the RTI Act for exposing corruption in the country, the team said.

The team also expressed concern that the ruling government in the state and the local MLA were silent on the matter. They have not issued any statement of condemnation of this brutal killing. This is a time when we all should speak up against this kind of violence, the team said.

The team will be preparing a detailed report with recommendations which it will present to state and national level authorities and commissions.

About Team

The team comprised of Kuldeep Verma, Birbal (Dalit Vikas Sangathan Sirmaur), Sukhdev Vishwapremi (Centre for Mountain Dalit Rights), Advocate Sanjay, Rajkumar (National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights & National Dalit Movement for Justice), Raja Velu from Human Rights Defenders Alert and Manshi Asher from Kangra Citizens Rights Group.

Misc News/Press Release

IIT Roorkee Proposes Earthquake Early Warning System for Himachal

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Earthquake Early Warning System for Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-Seismic hazard in Himachal Pradesh is very high as the maximum area of the state lies in the Himalayas, which is one of the most seismically active regions in the world. A developed Earthquake Early Warning System could be an effort in the direction to mitigate the seismic hazards in the state.

Therefore, IIT Roorkee has sent a proposal to the State Government to establish an Earthquake Early Warning System(EEW). IIT Roorkee has already installed such Earthquake Early Earning System in Uttarakhand with the help of State Government, which is running very effectively by generating a database of earthquake events, generating public awareness and detailed research on seismic activities.

According to IIT Roorkee’s proposal, Himachal Pradesh may put earthquake sensors in different parts of the State which will detect earthquake activities in real-time. The warning may be communicated to the general public by a network of sirens. If the earthquake has its epicentre in Kangra or Mandi regions, the people in the State Capital may get lead time to take action say by 30 to 35 seconds.

Similarly, the expected lead time to the major cities if 1905 Kangra earthquake repeats in the region would be Solan 42 seconds, Mandi 20 seconds, Dalhousie 8 seconds, Dehradun 77 seconds, Chandigarh 43 seconds, Ludhiana 37 seconds, Amritsar 38 seconds, Panipat 93 seconds and Delhi 123 seconds.

Timely action may save many lives if there is an earthquake in the State in future and such an early warning system is in place and institutionalized and such EEWS will help generating a database of earthquakes in the state and generating mass awareness on earthquake safety.

Regarding this proposal, a meeting to develop Earthquake Early Warning System in Himachal Pradesh was held under the Chairmanship of Principal Secretary Revenue and Disaster Management Onkar Chand Sharma today.

After detailed deliberations, Onkar Sharma said that the State Government may consider and more discussion will be held to take up this proposal.

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Misc News/Press Release

HP Excise and Taxation Department Collects Rs. 6421.55 crore in 2018-19 Financial Year: Govt

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HP Excise and Taxation Department tax collection for 2018-29

Shimla-The Himachal Pradesh Excise and Taxation department collected Rs. 6421.55 crores towards government ex-chequer during the financial year 2018-19 against the target of Rs. 5860.63 crores.   The department has collected Rs. 1159.74 crores up to May 2019 during current fiscal. This information was released by Principal Secretary (E&T) Sanjay Kundu.

Kundu stressed on the need to run special campaigns for the realization of arrears due under all heads so that more revenue could be added to government ex-chequer. He also directed to work for plugging loopholes and leakages at all levels.

While expressing concern over pending arrears, he directed the department to take a fresh look at the provisions of Excise and Toll policy to make it more effective and realistic to achieve and secure higher revenue. He exhorted to make the excise policy more tourist-friendly by amending the relevant provisions and also by securing the government revenue. 

He emphasized conducting intensive and adequate training programmes for capacity building and to emulate the best practices and models available in the country.

He directed that the department should adopt a more proactive approach for revenue enhancement under Goods & Services Tax Act. The departmental officers in the field should take more interest in tax collection from the service sector in co-ordination with various government departments.

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Campus Watch

HPU VC Faces Backlash After Varsity Releases PG Merit List Without Settling UG Results

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ABVP Protest at HPU against suspension 3

Shimla– The Vice-Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh Univesity, Sikander Kumar, is facing backlash from students after he made the varsity a laughing stock by releasing merits list for PG classes without completely declaring and settling results of UG classes.

Both student organisations, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Student Federation of India (SFI) are up in arms against the VC, alleging him of incompetence to handle the affairs of the varsity properly. Also, both students organizations have been alleging the varsity of irregularities in admissions to P.hD and MCA.  

The students are alleging that not only the dictatorial attitude of the VC mentally harassing thousands of students across the state but also harassing those students who are protesting against prevailing disorder and irregularities in the working of the authorities.

It’s pertinent to mention that the varsity on Thursday suspended 10 members of the ABVP for staging protest over delay and irregularities in the UG results due which students were facing huge inconvenience.

ABVP, during another protest on July 19, termed it a dictatorial and one-sided action aimed at suppressing the voices protesting against corruption and the harassments students were facing.

SFI also criticized this action of the varsity. Irrespective of the organization to which they belong, SFI condemns the suspension of these students who were protesting against prevailing disorder at the campus, said SFI campus secretary Jeevan Thakur.

Today, ABVP staged another protest over the suspension of its members at the campus in which students laid down on the ground pretending to be dead bodies, terming it a symbolic representation of the future of students.

ABVP Protest at HPU against suspension5

The students warned that a movement similar to JP Narayan of 1975 that was organized to end the emergency like situation would be re-created against VC’s dictatorship.  ABVP demanded to revoke the suspension of 10 students and properly declare the UG results. The organization warned that if the varsity does not accept these demands, a massive protest would be organized on July 22 – the foundation day of HPU. Chandel has warned that not even the Chief Minister would be allowed to enter the varsity campus on that day.

ABVP Protest at HPU against suspension6

SFI also alleged the current VC of adopting a completely dictatorial attitude towards students and raised questions over the working of the varsity authorities.

The varsity failed to settle the results of the sixth semester of UG classes by July 19. The students are compelled to visit the varsity themselves to get their results corrected. Moreover, without settling UG results, the varsity has released the merit lists of the entrance exams for PG classes, said SFI.

It said the VC is more concerned about protecting his staff responsible for creating disorder and indulging in corrupt practices. Letters with false allegations against them were being sent to the parents of those students who were taking part in protests, which is leading to mental harassment of both students and parents, SFI alleged.

Students are being treated like captives in hostels. Even 24×7 library was made inaccessible to students. The inter-hostel outing in girl hostels was also suspended, said SFI.

The campus president of SFI Vikram Thakur alleged that the varsity is consistently depriving students of their democratic rights. He urged the students to unite in order to end this dictatorial attitude of the VC.

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