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Bandaru Dattatreya Swears in as 27th Governor of Himachal Pradesh

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New Governor of Himachal Pradesh in 2019

Shimla- New Governor of Himachal Pradesh was sworn in today. Bandaru Dattatreya became the 27th Governor of Himachal after taking an oath at the Raj Bhawan in Shimla. 

Justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary, Judge of HP High Court, administered the oath of office and secrecy to him. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and Lady Governor Vasantha were also present on the occasion.

Mr Dattatreya, 72, was born in Hyderabad.  He remained the minister of state for labour and employment in the BJP government headed by Narendra Modi in 2014. Prior to it, he was also part of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet.

He was dropped from a Cabinet post by Narendra Modi in September 2017. He was also Denied a seat from Secunderabad Lok Sabha constituency in 2019. However, his loyalty towards the RSS and the BJP, extending over half-a-century finally did get him an honourable position as the new Governor of Himachal Pradesh.

“I consider it my privilege to have a chance to work as a Governor in this Himalayan state close to the nature”,

said the Governor while interacting with the media and added that nature has given immense beauty to Himachal and this state discussed in south India as well, especially for it natural grandeur and clean environment.

Bandaru Dattatraya said that he had a vast experience of public service as a politician and now he has to discharge the responsibility of the constitutional post. As a Governor, he could only help in accelerating the pace of development of the state. He would also like to contribute in taking the benefit of the welfare schemes being implemented by the government to the targeted beneficiaries so that they get the real benefits out of these schemes and programmes. He said that it would be his endeavour to take forward the pace of development in coordination with both the government and the Opposition.

He said that he would also like to work on some important issues, including tourism development, quality education and awareness against drug addiction in the state. He added that it was important to preserve nature by maintaining greenery, forests and rivers. He said that the literacy rate of Himachal was very high, probably second in the country after Kerala but he would like to add that education needs to be linked to employment.

 “It will be my endeavour to move towards qualitative education in higher educational institutions. Attention should also be paid to qualitative as well as moral values”,

said Shri Dattatraya.

The Governor said that he had always been a person belonging to the poor, neglected, working and peasant class. It would be my endeavour that all the programmes and schemes of the government were implemented in the right direction, said the Governor.

The Governor was also given a Guard of Honour on the occasion. Chief Secretary Dr Shrikant Baldi read out the warrant of appointment. Secretary to the Governor Rakesh Kanwar obtained the signature of the Governor on the charge certificate.

Speaker H.P. Vidhan Sabha Dr. Rajiv Bindal, former Chief Ministers Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal,  Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj,  Social Justice & Empowerment Minister Dr. Rajiv Saizal, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Krishan Reddy,  Chief of Staff, ARTRAC Lt. General G.S. Sangha, MLAs, Mayor, Kusum Sadret, Director General of Police S.R. Mardi, Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of various Boards and Corporations, Vice-Chancellors of Universities, senior officers of army, police and civil were also present on the occasion.

 

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Kotkhai Gudiya Case Verdict: Life Imprisonment to Convict, But Parents Say Real Culprits Still Roaming Free

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Kotkhai Gudiya rape and murder case judgement

ShimlaKotkhai’s Gudiya case has officially concluded for now as the lone accused of raping and murdering a schoolgirl was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 18. For the CBI and the court, justice is served, but not for Gudiya’s parents and several locals, who had already approached the Himachal Pradesh High Court with a plea to re-open the case.

On Friday, District and Session Judge, Shimla, Rajive Bharadwaj (also special judge CBI court) pronounced the sentence and imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 on the convict.

Earlier, on April 18, 2021, based on the investigation and evidence presented by CBI, the special CBI court had found Anil Kumar alias Neelu – a woodcutter- guilty of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl, who was returning home from school on July 4, 2017.

However, the parents of Gudiya expressed disappointment and said the CBI had washed its hands off but justice still has not been delivered. They maintained that this heinous crime was committed by more than one person. The parents said they would continue to fight a legal battle to get justice for their daughter.

The court found at least 12 out of 14 points of evidence given by the CBI against the accused. His DNA match with the sample taken from the crime spot was considered one of the most crucial pieces of evidence.

A total of 59 witnesses were produced by the CBI.

Neelu was convicted under Sections 376 (2) (i), 376 (A), and 302 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 4 of the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The court observed that the crime was committed in the spur of the moment. The convict came across the girl while she was on her way home from school through a path in the Haliailla forest of Kotkhai and committed the crime. 

Neelu, however, told media that he was innocent and was framed by the CBI. He labelled serious allegations against CBI including threats to his life. He told News 18 that  threats were given to him that he would be killed like Suraj, one of the accused killed in police custody on July 18, 2017. He even said that his mother was taken hostage in order to frame him. He said he would approach the higher courts to challenge this verdict. 

Known as the Kotkhai Gudiya rape and murder case, the case had created a stir for several reasons and led to widespread anger and protest. The biggest was the alleged botched-up investigation by a Special Investigative Team headed by Inspector General, Southern Range, Zaidi where six persons were falsely framed and one of them was killed in custody. The killed person was identified as Suraj – a Nepalese labourer. 

This led to violent protests and clashes of protestors with police. A police station in Kotkhai was set ablaze by a mob of locals. Under tremendous pressure, the case was handed over to the CBI in July. A team of CBI lodged two separate FIRs – one in the case relating to the rape and murder of the minor girl and the second in the custodial killing.

On August 29, CBI arrested IG Zaidi, DSP Manoj Joshi and six other police personnel for framing innocent persons and killing one of them in police custody. Another shocker came on November 16 when then Superintendent of Police, DW Negi, was also arrested over charges of filing fake cases in the custodial killing of Suraj.

The CBI told the court that the remaining five accused arrested by the SIT were innocent and were falsely framed and tortured.

The CBI team investigated for the next eleven months without any success. For this delay in investigation, the agency faced backlash from the state high court. Ultimately, disappointed with the CBI, the court questioned the competence of CBI and asked its Director to appear personally before it.

Immediately after this summons, CBI claimed to had cracked the case in which a woodcutter was arrested. The case was considered to be closed thereafter.

In the court, the investigation concluded successfully, however, parents and locals still express doubts that this CBI investigation was botched up. 

Another mystery that wasn’t investigated was that on the evening of July 11, pictures of four youths  were posted on Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s official Facebook page with an update regarding the SIT probe. The update had said the police nabbed these four suspects  (shown in those pictures) in the Gudiya case. The post was however, deleted after a few minutes later and it was termed as a technical glitch. 

virbhadra-singh-kotkhai-gangrape-controversy2

File Screenshot of Deleted photos

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Editors Guild of India Condemns FIR Against Journalists, Calls it Destructive of Freedom of Speech

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ghaziabad incident
Image Credit: The Cognate

Shimla-The Editors Guild of India on Thursday condemned the filing of First Information Reports (FIRs) by the Uttar Pradesh Police against The Wire and several other journalists for their tweets on an assault on an elderly Muslim man in Ghaziabad on June 5th.

“The Guild is deeply concerned by the UP Police’s track record of filing FIRs against journalists to deter them from reporting serious incidents without fear of reprisals”, it said.

It further added that it is the duty of the journalists to report on the basis of sources and in case facts become contested later on, to report the emerging versions and facets.

The guild called such actions by the police destructive of freedom of speech. It also claimed that the police has been discriminatory in targeting those media organizations and journalists when thousands had tweeted the video- that have been critical of the government and its policies.

“The Guild condemns this wanton misuse of laws to criminalize reporting and dissent to harass independent media and demands that the FIRs be withdrawn immediately,” it demanded.

Several media organizations and journalists had posted the video on their social media feeds. The UP police has filled FIR’s against The Wire, Twitter, journalist Mohammed Zubair, Rana Ayyub and Sana Naqvi and some Congress leaders under IPC Sections 153(provocation for rioting), 153A(promoting enmity between different groups), 295A(acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 505(mischief), 120B(criminal conspiracy) and 34(common intention) against them.

In the video that was posted by those charged, the man is seen alleging that he was beaten up by some people and was forced to chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’.

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Read HP Govt’s Revised Covid Vaccination Strategy, Schedule, New Additions to Priority Groups

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HP Govt Revised Covid Vaccination Strategy

Shimla-Revised guidelines for vaccination in Himachal Pradesh were issued by the state government today. The revision followed the new guidelines issued by the Centre government for vaccination of the 18–44-year age group. This revised strategy would come in to force 21st June 2021 onwards.

It’s pertinent to mention that the Supreme Court of India had grilled the Centre government over its erroneous and discriminatory vaccination policy. The court had called it an irrational policy which is detrimental to the right to life and health. After this backlash from the Court, the Centre government was compelled to make revisions.

Also Read: India’s Revised Vaccination Policy and Supreme Court’s Role Behind This Change in Approach

Now, the deadline for the first dose of 45 plus and other categories (HCW, FLW and prioritized groups) was extended upto 30th June 2021.

Further, HP government informed that under the new vaccination drive, 2.5 lakh doses of COVISHIELD are being supplied to Himachal today.

According to the HP Govt’s revised vaccination strategy, beneficiaries have been divided into two groups – A and B.

Category A:

  1. All 45+ years beneficiaries for 1 Dose
  2. All 45+ years beneficiaries eligible for 2nd Dose of Covishield
  3. All HCWS as designated by Gol (for both dose 1 and dose 2)
  4. All FLWS designated and notified by Gol (for both dose 1 and dose 2)
  5. All priority groups notified by the GoHP (for both dose 1 and dose 2)

Category B:

  1. All 18-44 years old beneficiaries not included in the above category

The government said efforts would be made to avoid any mixing of beneficiary from 21 June till 30th June 2021.  

HP Govt’s New Directions for Vaccination to Districts

(a) Fixed day approach will be adopted for both categories. For category A beneficiaries, sessions will be held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (including Gazetted Holidays). For category B beneficiaries, sessions will be held on Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesday (including Gazetted Holidays). No Session will be held on Sundays.

(b) The Sessions for 18-44 beneficiaries falling under category B, beneficiaries will be planned as follows:

  1. In Rural, tribal and hard areas-sessions will be planned with the facility of on-spot registration.
  2. In Urban areas (MC, NAC and Nagar Parishad) sessions will be published through online slot booking mode only. For this purpose, the urban areas will be considered as places that are under the direct control of Municipal Corporation NAC/Nagar Panchayat.
  3. All the online session in urban areas will be published one day before the proposed session date between 12:00 PM to 01: 00 PM. But the onsite session can be published even in advance, depending upon the vaccine availability.
  4. Tribal areas (District of Lahaul Spiti, Kinnaur, Pangi region of District Chamba) and hard areas (DodraKwar Region of District Shimla) will aim at covering their 100% population with at least first dose (18-44 years and 45+) through Onspot sessions, by the modality of daily sessions, including Sundays and Holidays, if required. Their session load will depend on the target population. The districts have been directed that the target of 100% coverage of 18+ eligible population in tribal and hard area under all circumstances must be achieved by 25th June 2021.

All 18+ beneficiaries in urban areas have been asked to come to vaccination session sites only after scheduling their appointment online. Beneficiaries of the prioritized groups or the persons who are due for 2nd dose have been asked to come to centres only on the prescribed days.

HP Govt Adds New Categories as Priority Group

The Health Department has now also included people associated with truck unions, private bus operators, taxi unions and the hotel industry as priority groups for vaccination. The specific formats of identification certification would be generated for vaccination registration. Authentication on CoWIN portal would be issued by the concerned bus/taxi/truck operator or the hotel owner.

Further, the HP government informed that it has vaccinated 181665 Front Line Workers with the first dose and 42528 Front Line Workers with the second dose till 17-06-2021.

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