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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

Season’s First Spell of Snow in Shimla, Manali, Cold Wave Intensifies Across State

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Snowfall in Shimla and Manali 2019

Shimla-Manali and Shimla received the first spell of snow in this season on Thursday. Tourist destinations like Kufri, Narkanda, Kharapather, Kotkhai etc were covered in snow.

The Rampur-Shimla Highway was closed to traffic after snow piled up. The traffic on this route was re-routed through Basantpur. About 20 routes in the upper Shimla region, including Chaupal and Rohru, are also hit by snow. 

After some minor accidents were reported, Shimla Police has requested drivers to be careful while driving in snowy conditions.

Drive Carefully! With season's first spell of snow, roads in #Shimla became riskier to drive. On Thursday morning, an…

โพสต์โดย Himachal Watcher เมื่อ วันพฤหัสบดีที่ 12 ธันวาคม 2019

Another popular tourist destination of the state, Manali, also received the first spell of snow in this season, cheering the hospitality industry. Solang Nala and Gulaba received about one foot of snow, while Marhi received two feet. Rohtang Pass has received over three feet of snow. All traffic on Rohtang Pass and Solang Nala routes was stopped near Nehrukund. Snow has hit traffic movement and electricity supply in some parts of Manali.

Other than these destinations, Lahaul-Spiti, Pangi, and Kinnaur were also disconnected from the rest of the state due to snow. Over 75 routes across Himachal were hit by snow.

Some parts of Sirmaur including Churdhar and higher reaches of Mandi district, including Shikari Devi and Kamarunag, also received a spell of snow. 
Shimla city and plains witnessed rain since morning.

The cold wave has intensified in the state with the ongoing spell of snow and rain. The Himachal Pradesh met department has predicted more snowfall on December 13. The Met on Wednesday had issued a yellow weather warning for 12th and 13th December with a prediction of rain and snow in most places across the state.

The Met has predicted that the state could receive more snow and rain till December 15, which would further intensify cold wave.

Weather Prediction for Himachal Pradesh 2019

Source: HP Met

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Missing Youth Case: Friend to Face Polygraph Test, Family Questions Police Investigation

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Missing Shimla Youth Shubham

Shimla-In the case related to the disappearance of Shubham, a local of Shimla’s Rohru, his arrested friend, Puneet, will go through a polygraph test. It was informed by an official of the Shimla Police on Tuesday.

After local police remained clueless in the case, a plea was submitted to a court seeking permission to conduct polygraph test on the suspect. The court has granted permission, the official informed.

The family of the missing youth is now raising questions over the investigation. They expressed a possibility that police could be working under some kind of pressure.

After 11 days of Shubham’s disappearance, the district police has revealed new details, which are obtained by questioning the suspect. Following the dissatisfaction expressed by the family, the SP has announced formation of a Special Investigation Team to investigate the case. The district police has already announced reward for anyone who would provide information related to Shubham.

As per the statement by the Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Ompati Jamwal, search operations are being conducted under the supervision of the DSP, Theog.  Daily 25-40 police personnel have been searching the area from where Shubham had gone missing. He also said that dog squad and drones were being used in the search operation.

Shubham had left with his friends to attend a car rally. His friend, Puneet had asked Shubham to photograph him during the rally. They were returning to Jubbal from Deha when Subham went missing.

“According to the version given by Puneet (to the police), along with 15 other youth, they had stayed at some house and had consumed liquor. After they left the house, Puneet stopped the vehicle (Gypsy) somewhere in Deha as Subham said he wanted to vomit. Subham got out of the car,”

SP Jamwal told media.

“Puneet said he fell asleep, and when he woke up, Shubham had not returned,”

Jamwal said. However, Jamwal said this information is based only on initial investigation and claims of the suspect were yet to be confirmed.

Father of Shubham, Krishan Chand, has expressed suspicion on Puneet. On Monday, the disheartened father of the missing youth held a press conference in Shimla where he burst into tears.

“I am sure that Puneet is behind all this, and he knows about my son,”

the father told media.

“The entire area is a jungle. For the last 10 days, over 100 people along with 60-70 locals from Deha village have been searching the area. We did not find anything. Still, the police is only searching the same area every day,”

the father said.

“I request the government to find my son. No matter in what condition, but find him soon,”

he said.

The SP hoped that a polygraph test would help crack the case. The test could be conducted within this week.

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Misc News/Press Release

Snowfall, Rain Predicted in Himachal, Yellow Warning Issued for 12, 13 Dec

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Snowfall in shimla and kullu manali in december 2019

Shimla– At least seven districts of Himachal Pradesh are likely to witnesses snowfall and rain till 16 December 2019.  The Himachal Pradesh Meteorological Department, Shimla, has issued a yellow-coded weather warning for 12 and 13 December. The warning is issued for Mandi, Shimla, Kullu, Sirmaur, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts.

Rain and thundershowers are predicted at most places in the plains and rain/snow in Middle Hills on 12 December. For Higher Hills, the Met predicts rain/snow in most places.

On 13 December, widespread rain/snowfall is predicted in Middle and Higher Hills. Plains are likely to receive widespread rain.

snowfall in shimla and kullu in december 2019

Source: HP Met

Further, Met dept. predicts rain/snow in Middle and Higher Hills at isolated places from 14-16 December. The weather is likely to remain dry on 15 and 16 December in the plains.

Following the prediction of the Met Department, District Administration, Shimla, has issued an advisory requesting trekkers and locals to avoid going to higher reaches of the district on 12 and 13 December. The administration said Narkanda, Kharapathar, Kufri could receive snow on the said dates.

The district administration said it is prepared to keep roads open in case of snow.

The temperature is likely to drop, intensifying the cold condition across the state.

It is important to note that Rohtang Pass remains closed to traffic and locals are left to cross the pass on foot. The locals complained that the only link between Lahaul-Spiti and Kullu in winters is the Rohtang Tunnel, which is non-functional, and no helicopter flights are being provided.

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