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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

Solan Building Collapse: Death Toll Rises to 14 Including 13 Jawans and 1 Civilian, Rescue Operation Concluded

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Solan Building Collapse death toll

Solan-The toll of those killed in the collapse of a multi-storey building yesterday in Kumarhatti of Solan district that also housed a restaurant ‘Sehaj Tandoori Dhaba’ has risen to 14 as the rescue teams recovered more bodies. Over 25 people have been rescued and sent to Dharampur hospital for treatment. The deceased included 13 army jawans and one civilian, confirmed the Vivek Chandel, ADM, Solan. The rescue operation has concluded. As per the administration, total 42 people were trapped including 30 Jawans of Assam Rifles and 12 civilians. 

“Since yesterday, 17 Armymen and 11 civilians have been rescued. Three teams of the National Disaster Response Force have taken over the rescue,”

the Deputy Commissioner KC Chaman told PTI.

The building located on the Nahan-Kumarhatti road that housed a restaurant on one of the floors came down around 4 PM on July 14. As it was Sunday, several army personals of Assam Rifles had come to dine at the restaurant. The hotel owner also lived in the building along with his wife and two children. While the children were playing in the neighbourhood, their mother was present in the building. She reportedly died in the collapse, confirmed Additional SP Shiv Kumar Sharma.

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Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on July 15 also visited the spot and ordered a magisterial probe to ascertain the cause of the collapse. An FIR against the owner of the building has also been registered.
Jairam thakur in solan

With this tragedy, questions are being raised over the legality of the construction. The building that was constructed in 2009 had at least four storeys. One of the storeys, as per reports, was added recently.Some reports suggested that complaints were also filed regarding the construction of this building.

Solan Rescue Operation

Currently, weak foundation and non-compliance with existing rules regarding the construction of buildings are considered as causes of the collapse. However, the district administration officials said the actual causes could only be ascertained after a probe.

Over 250 men of National Disaster Relief Force, District Police, and army jawans from nearby cantonment were continuously carrying out rescue work since yesterday. 

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2 killed, Several Trapped as Multi-Storey Building Collapses in Solan’s Kumarhatti

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Solan Building Collapse

Solan– A multi-storey building collapsed in Kumarhatti in Solan district today. Twp people said to have been killed. As per initial information available, over 35 people were present inside the building, which is said to be a dhaba (restaurant) when it collapsed. Over 15 persons were pulled out of debris and rescued while several others are feared to be still trapped. The incident occurred during a heavy downpour.


Several of these trapped people included army jawans. The army personnel and their family members were on their way to Uttarakhand and had stopped at the restaurant for lunch, a district official told PTI.

Solan building

As per a Tweet by the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, about 40 people were trapped under the debris. Out of these, 19 were rescued and operation is in progress to rescue others.

Latest update from ANI said that 22 people were rescued. The rescued injured were taken to Dharampur hospital for treatment.

Injured in solan building collapse
As per the district administration, a team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was sent for from Panchkula for carrying out the rescue operation.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Solan, and the Additional District Magistrate had also reached the spot.
Himachal pradesh building collapse

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Shimla’s Popular Baljees Restaurant Shuts Down, Workers Protest Over Unpaid Dues Worth Crores

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Baljees shimla closed, workers protest

Shimla-Today, the iconic Baljees — a 65-years-old restaurant located on the Shimla Mall will be winding up its operation. While the media is highlighting Shimla’s mourning over the closing of Baljees, its 70 workers, who are now rendered jobless, are protesting for the last two days for their unpaid dues. Several of these workers have been serving in the restaurant for over four decades and have contributed a lot towards its growth.

The workers alleged that the restaurant has not paid their dues worth about two crores. As per the workers, these dues include gratuity, bonus, leave encashment, notice pay, retrenchment compensation etc.  However, the Baljees management had earlier assured that all the dues would be cleared before closing.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has also come in support of these workers. It said the Baljees not only violating the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 but also going against the orders passed by the State High Court on July 12, 2018. In its July 12 orders, the court had made it clear that the management of the restaurant would have to pay all the dues before handing over the building to its owner.  In case the management fails to do so, this action would be considered as a contempt of the court orders, the CITU said.

The workers have urged the district administration and district police to make the management of the restaurant comply with the orders of the court. Otherwise, the workers said, they would file a contempt of court petition along with more protests.

 The Baljees, which was considered a destination restaurant, had gained popularity among both locals as well as tourists. Several influential political names from Virbhadra Singh to Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to visit the restaurant, it is said.  

Chandra Baljee had set up this restaurant in 1954. It was expanded in 1972 after which it became famous for Indian and continental food. The decision to close the building had come in 2018 after Baljees management lost the legal battle against the owner of the building, Lok Nath & Sons. The battle had started over operation charges for the building.

In 2015, the District and Sessions Court had ordered eviction. Later, the matter reached the state High Court where operation charges were hiked from Rs 18,000 to 1.35 lakh per month.  However, the owner was demanding. Then, the case reached the Supreme court, and then back to the High Court. Finally, in July 2018, Baljees management and Alok Nath & sons arrived at a mutual compromise. The management decided to evacuate the building and sought one year’s time to wind up its operation. This deadline ended today.   

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