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India’s Rank in World Press Freedom Index Drops to 140 in 2019, Report Points Out Hindutva and Nationalism Agendas

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India in world press freedom index 2019 report 2

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has been released today. As a matter of huge concern in the list of 180 countries surveyed, India has dropped down to 140th position from last year’s 138.  Norway was ranked at number one.

India has been placed close to Pakistan at 142, and Bangladesh at 150.

The overall findings showed hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media

As per the Index, threats, insults and attacks are now part of the “occupational hazards” for journalists in many countries.

“In India, where critics of Hindu nationalism are branded as “anti-Indian” in online harassment campaigns, six journalists were murdered in 2018,”

the RSF said in its Index.

Violence against journalists – including police violence, attacks by Maoist fighters, and reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt politicians – is one of the most striking characteristics of the current state of press freedom in India, the report said.

As per the RSF report, at least six Indian journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2018. A number of doubts surround a seventh case. These murders highlighted the many dangers Indian journalists face, especially those working for non-English-language media outlets in rural areas.

“Attacks against journalists by supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi increased in the run-up to general elections in the spring of 2019. Those who espouse Hindutva, the ideology that gave rise to Hindu nationalism, are trying to purge all manifestations of “anti-national” thought from the national debate,”

the report said.

“The coordinated hate campaigns waged on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that aggravate Hindutva followers are alarming and include calls for the journalists concerned to be murdered. The campaigns are particularly virulent when the targets are women,”

the report noted.

Further, the RSF report said that the emergence of a #MeToo movement in the media in 2018 has lifted the veil on many cases of harassment and sexual assault to which women reporters have been subjected. It also said that criminal prosecutions are meanwhile often used to gag journalists critical of the authorities, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124a of the penal code, under which “sedition” is punishable by life imprisonment.

 The mere threat of such a prosecution encourages self-censorship.

Coverage of regions that the authorities regard as sensitive, such as Kashmir, continues to be very difficult. Foreign reporters are barred from Kashmir and the Internet is often disconnected there,

RSF report said.

It also suggested that when not detained, Kashmiri journalists working for local media outlets are often the targets of violence.

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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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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