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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

Holding Clean Elections India’s Biggest Challenge as Misuse of Money Increases By Leaps And Bounds: EC

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Multi-Departmental Committee on Election Intelligence

New Delhi: Conducting clean elections is now one of the biggest challenges in our democracy given the prevalent abuse of money power, particularly when it manifests in the inducement of voters, the Elections Commission of India said today.

Unfortunately, the use of the money during the elections has increased by leaps and bounds in recent times. Mischief mongers are ever devising more ingenious ways to beat the system, said the EC Larger seizures have been made by our enforcement teams in successive elections.

To address this paramount problem, the Election Commission of India headed by Chief Election Commissioner  Sunil Arora along with Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra today held a meeting of Multi-Departmental Committee on Election Intelligence.  Heads of Tax Boards, Law enforcement agencies, Central Paramilitary Forces and representatives of Financial Institutions attended the meeting.

The Chief Election Commissioner, Sunil Arora along with the Election Commissioners, Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra at Meeting of Multi-Departmental Committee on Election Intelligence, in New Delhi on March 15, 2019.

He said Commission is determined to curb this menace and has issued detailed guidelines to monitor election expenditure incurred by candidates and political parties.  He said individually and collectively the agencies participating in the meeting are the bulwarks of clean elections. The outcome of synergised action should exceed the commitments made. 

To ensure clean elections, it is vital keeping track of the legal expenditure incurred by candidates and political parties for election campaigns. More importantly, it is imperative to ensure that there is no illegal use of money and other items for buying of votes, said Election Commissioner Chandra.

Issues Discussed at Committee on Election Intelligence

  • Ways of Curbing of covert expenditure by candidates and political parties
  • Sensitisation of the law enforcement agencies about their role during elections
  • Co-operation and sharing of intelligence of economic offences amongst law enforcement agencies for effective action
  • Preparation of road map for action during the elections
  • Mapping of constituencies by concerned agencies to check transportation of smuggled goods, drugs, liquor, and cash, including fake currency, through seaports, inter-state borders and international borders and pro-active and preventive action by each law enforcement agency

The Heads of Tax Boards, Law enforcement agencies, Central Paramilitary Forces and representatives of Financial Institutions assured the Commission of prompt 24X7 expenditure monitoring and surveillance action.

The Commissions said a greater synergy amongst various enforcement agencies is needed to develop a collective strategy to fight this menace.  Therefore, the Commission expects that all enforcement agencies should have proper sharing of information for taking coordinated action rather than working in silos.

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Campus Watch

Nauni Varsity’s Apiculture Centre Judged as India’s Best Research Center, Bags Award

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Nauni Varsity’s Apiculture Centre bags award

Solan: The apiculture research centre of the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, has again bagged the ‘Best Research Center (2016-18)’ award. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) confers the award every year.  This is the second year in a row that the centre has bagged this award.

 University’s Department of Entomology runs the Solan centre of the All India Coordinated Research Project on Honeybees and Pollinators AICRP (HB&P).

Scientists from 27 AICRP centres from across the country participated in the meet and presented their work. Three scientists from the UHF centre; Dr Harish Kumar Sharma, Dr Kiran Rana and Dr Meena Thakur also attended the meeting.

The Principal Investigator Dr Harish Sharma said that the centre is engaged in research in diversified aspects of apiculture including managed honeybee pollination, bee botany, bee breeding, honeybee disease identification and their management, and standardization of technology for hive products.

This is the only centre in the country where bumblebee rearing and its utilization in protected cultivation has been standardized.

he said.

Elaborating on the work done by the entomology department of the university, HOD Dr Divender Gupta told that the centre has been working for the overall upliftment of apiculture in the state with special emphasis on pollination management.

In addition, the centre has been providing specialized training on queen breeding and bee breeding to beekeepers from across the country including the north-east. 

In order to establish bee breeders, the scientists have been providing technical backup for production of quality queens for increasing honey production and pollination efficiency,

he added.

The award was given at the Biennial Group Meeting of AICRP (HB&P) organized by ICAR at the School of Agricultural Sciences and Rural Development, Nagaland University last week.

Dr PK Chakravarti, ADG ICAR conferred the award at the plenary session of the workshop in the presence of eminent apiculturist and former national coordinators of the AICRP (HB&P) Dr RK Thakur and Dr RC Mishra. Dr RK Thakur, who is currently serving as the Joint Director (Communication) at UHF also delivered the lead lecture during the event.

UHF VC Dr HC Sharma and Dean College of Horticulture Dr Rakesh Gupta congratulated the whole team for bringing laurels to the university.

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Misc News/Press Release

Kinnaur Avalanche: 4 Bodies Including 3 Jawans of Himachal recovered, 2 Still Missing

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Army jawans killed in avalanche in Kinnaur

Kinnaur-The search operation for the missing jawans of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, who were buried in an avalanche in Himachal Pradesh about three weeks ago, has entered its 20th day on Monday.

On February 20, 2019, an avalanche hit a patrolling party in Namgia Dogri region in Kinnaur district along the  Indo-Tibetan border. It swept away and buried six jawans of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles.

Bilaspur Jawan Rakesh Kumar Martyred in Avalanche
Bilaspur Jawan Rakesh Kumar Martyred in Avalanche

One of the jawans – Rakesh Kumar (41) of Bilaspur district – was rescued on the same day, but succumbed to injuries on the way to Pooh hospital.

The body of Rajesh Rishi (25), a native of Nalagarh sub-division of Solan district, was recovered on March 2. It was followed by recovery of another jawan Govind Bahadur Chhetri’s body on March 4. Govind hailed from West Bengal. 

On March 9, the search team recovered the body of Rifleman Nitin Rana (27). Nitin was cremated with state and military honour on March 10 in his native village Ritt in Jaisingpur of Kangra district.  His father is an ex-serviceman, and his brother is also serving in the Indian Army.

Three of the jawans martyred hailed from Himachal.

The search operation continues and the team is likely to find two more jawans soon.

In a separate incident, Amit Kumar (29)- a Garud Commando in special forces unit of the Indian Air Force – was killed during a parachute jump in Agra on March 7, 2019.  Amit belonged to village Bussal of Kangra district. 

Almost 500 jawans of Indian-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Army have been searching for the missing jawans since their disappearance. Villagers were also assisting in the operation. The teams are using everything from machinery, metal detectors, sniffer dogs to thermal sensing equipment to find the jawans.

A team of the Defense Research Development Organization(DRDO) also visited the site.

Meanwhile, the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF), a wing of the Indian Army, has also deployed its machinery to remove snow.

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