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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.

Election Watch

In Himachal, Over 50 Lakh Voters to Cast Vote in 7730 Polling Stations on May 19

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Polling in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla– Over fifty lakh voters are set to vote in 7730 polling stations in four parliamentary constituencies of Himachal Pradesh in the last phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha election on May 19.

Talking about the poll preparations, Additional Chief Electoral Officer DK Rattan said, “53,30,154 voters will vote in 7730 polling stations on May 19. 373 polling stations are critical, 47 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed there.

It’s being ensured that voting takes place peacefully at all polling stations. Rattan said that polling agents have either reached their respective polling stations or are on their way

“Polling party for the remote, tribal polling station at Bara Bhangal in Kangra district was sent on May 15. In Shimla’s Dodra Kawar, teams and material were sent for seven polling stations on May 16,”

he said

“In Lahaul Spiti district, the polling station has been set at an altitude of 15,256 feet at Tashigang. This is the world’s highest polling station,”

he added. (ANI)

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Campus Watch

Nauni Varsity Scholar Selected for World Congress on Agroforestry 2019, France

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Krishan Lal Gautam of UHF Nauni in France

Solan: Krishan Lal Gautam, a doctorate student of Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni has been selected to give a poster presentation at the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry, being held in Montpellier, France from 20-22 May 2019.

Based on the abstract the scientific committee of the Congress has selected Krishan Lal for receiving 1921 euros grant for attending the event. This includes 340 euros for registration and other fees while another 1,481 euros is being paid to facilitate travel, accommodation, visa and living expenses.

Krishan Lal has completed his B Sc (Hons) Forestry and M Sc Agroforestry from UHF. He is presently pursuing his doctorate in Agroforestry from the university. The title of the poster presentation is ‘Effect of different types of organic manure on the production of Lepidium sativum under Morus based agroforestry system’.

Dr HC Sharma, UHF Vice-Chancellor said that it was a great achievement for a student to be selected for an international academic event of such high repute. He hoped that Krishan Lal will not only represent the institution but also shine at the event. The Dean College of Forestry and the faculty also wished him success at the event.

The 4th World Congress on Agroforestry will see the participation of more than 1000 delegates and leading keynote speakers from all over the world to address a wide range of key agroforestry research issues. It will gather facts and figures from developing and developed countries and support a collaborative effort with broad social participation. Special attention will be given to vulnerable countries and populations.

The overall objective of the Congress is to contribute to the progress of agroforestry science and practice in order to bridge the science-policy gap. Some of the topics which will be covered during the congress are agroforestry and climate change, agroforestry, food security and nutrition, adoption of agroforestry, agroforestry policies etc.

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Misc News/Press Release

Shimla Rape Case: An Eyewitness Confirms Part of Victim’s Statement

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Update on Shimla Rape Case Victim

Shimla-The alleged case of rape with a 19-year-old in Shimla’s Bhattakufar area has become more complicated as an eyewitness confirmed a part of the victim’s statement given to police. As per reports, this eyewitness, in his statement, told police that he was parking his car on that night (28 April) when this girl came to him rushing and asking for help.

“He claimed the 19-year-old was in a semi-nude condition and was begging for help when he came across her near the Hill Grove on the Dhalli-Bhattakufar road,”

reported News 18

She was so scared that she tried to enter his car, he said. She asked him about the name of the location. The eyewitness told her that it was Hill Groove.

This eyewitness said he told the girl to not to worry and even told her that he would call her wife if that makes her feel safe.

A few minutes later, the eyewitness told the police, two persons came on a bike. One of the boys gave his shirt to the girl and took her with him. The eyewitness also gave initials of the bike number, and said he could not remember the complete number as it was dark.

The eyewitness also identified the boy in front of police later.

The police also questioned the boy, who is said to be a friend of the girl. As per the boy, he later provided the girl with his sister’s clothes. The sister of the boy also confirmed the same, said a Hindi Daily.

The eyewitness said that on reaching home he had told about this incident to his wife as well.

Sources said the girl had mentioned in her complaint seeking help from a man after she was allegedly raped, which has been now confirmed. The girl had made a call to his friend and on the Gudiya helpline between 9:20 PM and 10 PM. Police has not revealed any further details about the call records of the girl’s phone.

However, the appearance of this eyewitness has raised questions over the claim of the police that the girl’s statement was not matching with its findings.

Earlier, police had claimed that CCTV footages of about 1.5 km area concerned to the alleged crime did not corroborate with the girl’s statement regarding kidnap. Also, police had claimed that the girl had withdrawn her statement and denied her own allegations in her statement given before the magistrate under CrPC 164.

As a contrast to it, now police said a sketch of the accused have been prepared on the description given by the girl.

The report of the second opinion on medical examination of the girl has not been made public yet.

The report of the magisterial probe into the role of Lakkar Bazaar police that was to be submitted by Thursday evening has also been delayed.

As per the English Daily The Tribune, police have questioned about 70 persons in connection to the alleged crime.

“The girl had said the accused was not known to her and was in his early 30s, wore specs and had a mole on his lower lip.

the Daily reported.

So far, police is clueless about unidentified accused.

Another striking aspect related to the case is that the family of the victim has not given any statement so far.

Family of Victim Under Pressure from BJP Govt in Haryana: Rathor

On the other hand, the President of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee, Kuldeep Rathor, in a press conference in Solan district on Thursday claimed, the family of the girl was being pressurized to hush-up the matter. He alleged that he has received this information from credible sources. As the girl hails from Haryana, and BJP is in power in both Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, her family was pressurized to not speak of it. This is the reason that after filing an FIR, the girl had to withdraw her statement, he alleged.

Rathor has also demanded a judicial probe under the supervision of the State High Court for a fair investigation.  

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