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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.

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Himachal Records a Sharp Spike in Daily New Covid Cases and Deaths, Two More Test Positive for Omicron

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Shimla-Himachal Pradesh on Monday witnessed a major jump in the number of both daily Covid-19 positive people and Covid-19 related deaths. While the state recorded 2446 new cases, six people died due to Covid-19 related illnesses in the last 24 hours. The Kangra district reported four of these days. The Covid-19 death toll has jumped to 3880 in the state and the active cases to 12142.

Further, Solan (359) reported the highest number of cases, followed by Kangra (348), Mandi (312), and Sirmaur (310). The capital reported 289 new cases.

Himachal Pradesh has also reported two new cases of the Omicron variant. Both cases were reported from the Una district where two people had returned from foreign countries. Reportedly, one of them had returned from Dubai and the other from France. So far, the state has recorded three cases of the Omicron variant, according to the official statistics.

Daily Covid-19 Report Issued by HP NHM for January 17, 2022 (Till 7 pm)

Omicron cases in Himachal pradesh

The daily sampling, however, remains low despite a rise in positivity rate. On Monday, according to the statistics of the HP Health Department, 12,850 samples were taken. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had been directing the officials to increase testing, but the number remains below 15, 000 per day.

According to the official statistics, last week (10 Jan – 16 Jan), Himachal Pradesh had reported 11280 new cases and the positivity rate rose to 14.1%.

Though the HP Government has imposed some Covid-19 restrictions, the entry of visitors to the state was yet to be restricted or regulated.

The surge is likely to continue till the third wave of the pandemic peaks in Himachal. Health experts and the state government had already warned about the advent of the third wave.

The government and experts had been urging the people to follow Covid-appropriate behavior and follow related protocols strictly to minimize the impact of the third wave. However, the compliance was reported to be quite low among all sections of the society and within the government itself.

The daily sampling, however, remains low despite rise in the positivity rate. On Monday, according to the statistics of the HP Health Department, 12,850 samples were taken. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had been directing the officials to increase testing, but the number still remains below 15, 000.

According to the official statistics, last week (10 Jan – 16 Jan), Himachal Pradesh had reported 11280 new cases and the positivity rate had risen to 14.1%.

Though the HP Government has imposed some Covid-19 restrictions, the entry of visitors to the state was yet to be restricted or regulated.

The surge is likely to continue till the third wave of the pandemic peaks in Himachal. Health experts and the state government had already warned about the advent of third wave.

The government and experts had been urging the people to follow Covid-appropriate behavior and follow related protocols strictly to minimize the impact of the third wave. However, the compliance was reported to be quite low among all sections of the society and within the government itself.

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HP Cabinet Decisions Jan 14, 2022: No New Covid Restrictions, Nod to Tax Waiver for Transporters & Other Decisions

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HP Cabinet Decisions January 14, 2022

Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on January 14, 2022. It was expected that the state government could take a decision on imposing more Covid-19 restriction considering the sudden surge in daily new cases, however no such decision was taken. 

The Cabinet took various decisions including a nod to dispense with the process of 15 marks evaluation and enhancement of weightage of written test from 85 to 100 marks for direct recruitment to Class-III posts.

Tax Waivers for Transporters

The Cabinet gave its ex post facto approval for 100 percent waiver/ exemption of Token Tax, Special Road Tax and Passenger Tax of various categories of vehicles to provide relief to the transporters keeping in view the effect due to corona pandemic.

HP Cabinet decided to waive of remaining 50 percent Token Tax on Stage Carriage, Taxi, Maxi, Auto and Contract Carriage buses, Institutional Buses and 100 percent Token Tax on Contract Carriage Buses and Special Road Tax on Stage Carriage with effect from 1st August 2020 to 30th June 2021. I

The Cabinet also decided to waive off 100 percent Token Tax on Stage Carriage, Contract Carriage and Institutional Buses and Special Road Tax of Stage Carriage with effect from 1st July 2021 to 30th November 2021.

It also decided to waive off 100 passenger tax on contract carriage and institutional buses with effect from 1st April 2020 to 30th November 2021.

The HP Cabinet gave its approval for restructuring of State Taxes and Excise Department. Creation and filling up of posts would be carried out by the Department in a phased manner in consultation with the Finance Department and sync with the restructuring proposal.

The Cabinet gave its approval to fill up 108 posts of different categories in the Revenue Department on a contract basis.

The Cabinet decided to fill up 42 posts of Silk Inspectors in the Industries Department on a contract basis.

The Cabinet decided to fill up 13 posts of different categories in the Printing and Stationery Department.

It decided to fill up three posts of Statistical Assistant in Revenue Department on contract basis.

Relief to Flood Affected Farmers of Lahaul-Spiti

The Cabinet gave its nod to provide relief to flood-affected farmers of Lahaul-Spiti district for current agriculture and horticulture losses caused due to extensive rains on 27th to 30th July last year. The farmers would be provided Rs.2000 per bigha for losses between 25 to 50 percent, Rs. 2500 per bigha for losses between 50 to 75 percent and Rs. 3000 per bigha for losses to agricultural and horticultural crops above 75 percent. Rs. 3000 per bigha would also be provided to farmers for losses to their lands caused due to landslides/flash floods/avalanches etc. and Rs. 1000 per bigha would be provided for the desilting of agricultural and horticultural lands. 

It also gave planning permission for the construction of the PHC building between Lions Club and Housing Block No. 46 in Sector 6 New Shimla with relaxation beyond permissible norms in the public interest.

HP Swaran Jayanti Energy Policy-2021

HP Swaran Jayanti Energy Policy-2021 for clean and green energy development through expeditious of full energy potential especially hydro and solar. The Government aims to add 10000 MW of green energy through hydro, solar and other green energy sources by 2030 and the development of green energy sources

It also aimed at developing a transmission Master Plan to facilitate planning and timely execution of hydro and solar projects. It also lays stress on renewal energy sources viz. solar, wind, biomass and other non-conventional energy sources.

HP Swarnim Jayanti Sports Policy 2021

The Cabinet gave its approval to the Himachal Pradesh Swarnim Jayanti Sports Policy 2021 to develop and maintain sports infrastructure, encourage public-private participation in creating sports infrastructure, coordinate with educational institutions for the promotion of sports and to encourage, train and support sportspersons for participation and excellence in national and international championships with high standards of ethics. 

 

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Covid Restrictions Increase as Himachal Reports a Big Spike With 1200 New Cases in 24 Hours

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covid restrictions in himachal pradesh 2022

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh is witnessing a sudden spike in the number of daily Covid-19 positive cases as warned by the health experts and the government. In a span of eight days, the rate of new cases has jumped to more than double.

On Monday, of the total 9942 samples tested for Covid-19, 1200 were found to be positive with two Covid-19 deaths.  This number was below 500 on Sunday.

The surge has come ahead of the `warning of the third wave which is expected to peak by the March-end.

The state government has begun to increase restrictions as a precautionary measure. But the most crucial measure – restrictions on visitors from outside the state- is yet to be attended. Currently, Hill state is reporting a huge footfall of tourists due to snowfall. All tourist destinations are crowded with tourists as it’s the peak season. The imposition of restrictions on visitors would affect the tourism industry.

Also Read: HP Govt Closes Educational Institutes in State in Wake of Surge in Daily Covid-19 Cases

The HP Government has already imposed a night curfew, closed all educational institutes, banned all social and religious gatherings and imposed conditions on the number of people for those which have been allowed, shifted to a 5-day week for the government offices with only 50% attendance. Further, timings of the opening of the markets/shops have also been modified. However, these restrictions wouldn’t apply to chemists/medical stores. These restrictions would remain in force till January 26, 2022. 

Also Read: HP Govt Offices to Operate 5-Days a Week with 50% Attendance, Ban on Social and Religious Gatherings

In the Shimla district, the shops/markets would be allowed to open between 10 am to 7 pm.  However, motor mechanics are allowed to remain open till 11 pm. Similarly, restaurants can remain open till 10 pm, and those located along the National Highways till 11 pm.

In the Una district, all shops/markets except some would be allowed to open only till 6:30 pm and will remain closed on Saturday.

The district administration of Hamirpur has decided this timing to be between 6 am to 6 pm. The markets would remain closed on Saturday and Sunday except for those selling essentials.

For the Kullu district, shops/markets would remain open till 6: 30 pm and 6 pm in Solan. Similarly, administrations of respective districts have the liberty to create their roaster for these timings.

The return of these restrictions to the state and the warning of more daily cases during the next couple of months is causing a panic in the public, worsened by speculations of a possible lockdown in stock.

 

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