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Torture of 80-Year-Old Jolts Himachal, 24 Villagers Arrested, Women’s Commission Seeks Report from SP

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Mandi old woman case

Mandi-The case relating to the heinous and barbaric incident in Samahal village, Sarkaghat of Mandi district, in which an 80-year-old lady was declared a sorceress and made to wear a shoe-garland and paraded across the village with her face-blackened, has jolted the entire Himachal Pradesh. Hardly anyone had expected that the people of Devbhoomi could to be so insensitive toward a helpless elderly woman.

Now, from the Police, Women’s Commission, and HP High Court have also come into action. 

After two videos of the incident went viral on social media, the district police has lodged FIRs in the case. A total of 21 accused, including 7 females, have been apprehended, at the time of writing. While 17 of them were arrested on Saturday evening, four more were held on Monday morning. Three others were arrested by Monday evening. 

The arrested have been identified as Vavitar Singh, Anil Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Dhantar Singh, Balam Singh, Uttam Chand, Ritesh Parmar, Rajinder Singh, Sonu Parmar, Sunil Kumar, Amit Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Nisha Devi, Dipak Thakur, Amar Deyi, Anil Kumar, Vimla Devi, Kamla Devi, Simro Devi, Salochana Devi, and Shauntla Devi.

All the accused have been produced in the court and taken on police remand, confirmed the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sarkaghat, Chander Paul while talking to Himachal Watcher.

“After the incident came into our notice through the videos, we raided the village on Saturday night and arrested 17 people named in the complaint lodged by the family of the victim,”

the DSP said.

While some of the media sources reported the age of the victim to be 70 years, the DSP confirmed that the victim was 80-years-old.

He further informed that the accused were booked under Sections 47 (punishment for rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 452 (house-trespass), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance), 355 (assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour person) and 427 (mischief causing damage) of the Indian Penal Code.

A mob of villagers on Sunday tried to revolt against the action taken by police. The villagers, as per the local sources, had planned that they would gherao Sarkaghat Police Station to free the booked culprits.

However, as a precaution against any such possibility, the DSP had deployed additional police force in the area.

“We received reports that villager would try to gherao the police station, therefore over 50 additional jawans were deployed to prevent any unwanted situation,”

the DSP informed.

He said that there is sufficient evidence including videos to prove the roles of arrested accused behind this crime. The DSP also said that a couple of more arrest could be made as the victim has named more people in her supplementary statement.

The victim lady with her daughter and son-in-law talked to the media and dictated the incident. The elderly lady and her daughter could not hold back their tears in front of the media. The daughter of the victim was seen requesting media persons to not take photos and videos fearing that it would bring more humiliation to the family.

The family told the media that the incident occurred on November 6, 2019. However, it only came to their knowledge after they saw the video. The victim and her family were in trauma and could barely speak initially.

The daughter said that her family is now receiving life threats from the relative of those villagers who were arrested by police. The daughter told media that she would not let her mother return to that village again.  The daughter also alleged that their own relatives were behind this conspiracy to take over the property. She said these relatives have threatened them earlier too. The son-in-law of the victim on Monday submitted a written complaint to the SP that the family is receiving threats and requested for police protection. 

After the marriage of her daughter, the victim, a widow of an army personal, was living alone in the village. She was on target of some locals who claimed to be agents of the deity and had been receiving threats for a long time. On October 23, she had also filed a police complaint after her house was ransacked by villagers in her absence. But they were forced by section of villagers to withdraw the complaint.

HW also talked to Rajnish Sharma – a social activist – who alleged that this barbaric act could have been prevented if the local police had acted timely. He also alleged that the police was aware of the incident but remained silent. Rajnish demanded that the SHO and DSP, Sarkaghat should be suspended and the Superintendent of Police transferred.

The matter has reached the State High Court. The court has asked the government to file a report regarding this case within a week. The government was also asked to submit details of action taken in the case so far. 

It’s pertinent to mention that no higher official of the Police or district administration approached the victim even after the police had filed a complaint. It was only on Monday that the Chairman of the Women’s Commission, Dr Daisy Thakur, asked the SP to file a status report. The Chairman also visited the victim on Monday.

The MLA, Sarkaghat constituency, Inder Singh, also visited the victim and assured that strict action per law would be taken against the culprits.

Meanwhile, on social media, people expressed concern that emanation of news of such a heinous and superstitious act from Himachal  in the second decade of the 21st Century would tarnish the image of the state not only in India but on global level.  The literary rate of Himchal Pradesh , as per the 2011 census, was over 83 percent. The fact that such crime occurred in a state with high literacy rate makes it even shocking. 

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal Scientist Conferred National Fellowship for Outstanding Work in Floriculture, Landscaping

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Dr YC Gupta, a senior scientist of the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni 1

Solan: Dr YC Gupta, a senior scientist of the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni has been conferred fellowship of the Indian Academy of Horticultural Sciences. The fellowship was conferred for Dr Gupta’s outstanding contributions to the field of floriculture and landscaping.

Dr Gupta is presently working as the Dean of College of Horticulture and Centre of Excellence for Horticulture, Research and Extension, Thunag, Distt Mandi. He was conferred with the fellowship during the Indian Horticulture Congress 2019 at NAAS Complex, New Delhi held recently.

Born in Mandi, Dr Gupta obtained his BSc and MSc in 1986 from Agra University. After completing his doctorate in horticulture (Floriculture and Landscaping) from IARI, New Delhi, Dr Gupta joined UHF as Assistant Floriculturist in 1988. He served as Professor and Head of Department of Floriculture and Landscape Architecture for 12 years after which in 2019 he became the founding dean of the fourth constituent college of the university at Thunag.

Dr Gupta During the Indian Horticulture Congress 2019 at NAAS Complex, New Delhi


Dr Gupta has been associated in the development of seven hybrids of Gladiolus, five hybrids in Marigold, four hybrids in Antirrhinum and 3 hybrids in Pansy besides a patent named ‘HIMFLORA- a computerized botanical database of wild ornamentals of Himachal Pradesh’. Two varieties, Solan Mangla of Gladiolus and Solan Shringar of Chrysanthemum were released in 2014 and Virbhadra Singh, a variety of carnation was released in 2016.

Besides being the National Chairman for DUS testing of Carnation and Lilium under PPVFRA, Dr Gupta is a life member of various professional societies. The American Biographical Institute, USA conferred on him an honorary appointment in the year 2000. He is also the Fellow of Society for Recent Development in Agriculture and Indian Society of Ornamental Horticulture (ISOH) and the recipient of ISOH’s Lotus Puraskar 2011. He also won the Dr Manmohan Attawar Gold Medal Award in floriculture for the year 2016 by the Horticultural Society of India.

In his career spanning over nearly 31 years in teaching, research and extension including administration, Dr Gupta has guided several MSc and PhD students and has numerous research papers, books, book chapters, popular articles, and technical bulletins to his credit.

He has handled more than 17 externally funded and 8 state-funded research projects. UHF University Vice-Chancellor Dr Parvinder Kaushal and other scientists and staff and students congratulated Dr Gupta on his achievement.   

 

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ITBP Head Constable from Himachal Among 6 Shot Dead by Own Colleague

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Himachal ITBP head constable mahinder singh

Shimla-Six personnel reportedly died and two were injured when one of them opened fire with his service rifle following some dispute at an ITBT camp in insurgency-hit Narayanpur district of Bastar, Chhattisgarh on November 4, 2019.  This information was released by the Director General of Police,Chhattisgarh, DM Awasthi.

One of the personnel, Head Constable Mahender Singh, hailed from Barthi area of Bilaspur district. He is survived by his parents, wife, and two sons.

As per the DGP, there was some dispute which led to this fratricidal incident in which one of the personnel, Constable Masudul Rahman (West Bengal), opened fire on his colleagues at the Kedarnar camp of ITBP’s 45th battalion.  

“The ITBP personal who shot his five colleagues committed suicide with his own rifle and died on the spot,”

TOI quoted DGP.

As per another report, while the reason for the dispute is still not known, there is a speculation that the constable accused of opening fire was upset as he wasn’t granted leaves. However, the exact cause was yet to be ascertained.

Other four deceased included Head Constable Daljit Singh (Punjab), Constable Surjit Sarkar (West Bengal), Biswaroop Mahtoo (West Bengal) and Brijeesh (Kerala).

 Injured were identified as constable SB Ullass (Kerala) and constable Sitaram Doon (Rajasthan).

A probe has been ordered, ITBP officials confirmed.  

 

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Monkey Sterilization in Himachal Working, Farmers Feeling Relieved, Claims Forest Minister

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Monkey Sterlization in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-Forest, Transport and Youth Sports Minister, Govind Singh Thakur, claims that sterilization of monkeys has proved to be a successful solution in Himachal Pradesh and providing relief to the farmers. So far, one lakh 57 thousand monkeys have been sterilized in eight monkey sterilization centres of forest department in the state, the Minister claimed.

While the people did not report any relief from monkey menace, the Minister claimed the situation has improved as per the government.

He said the incentive to capture monkeys has been increased to Rs. 1000. Local people would be given training by the forest department to capture monkeys. It was discussed that workshops should be organized in vulnerable panchayats to provide training to the locals.

The Minister was presiding over one day workshop on ‘Human-Wildlife Conflict’ at Shimla organized by the Wild life wing of Himachal Pradesh Forest Department on November 3, 2019.

Forest Minister said that 548 panchayats of the state are vulnerable to monkey menace.

Principal Chief Conservator Dr Savita said 1100 monkey hotspots have been identified in the state. She informed that 91 Tehsils/sub-Tehsils and Municipal Corporation Shimla area have been declared vermin for a period of one year.

Emphasis was laid on the plantation of fruit-bearing saplings in forests so that monkeys don’t enter human settlements in search of food.

However, no discussion was done on keeping human settlements clean and discourage littering of food waste which attracts monkeys, especially in cities.

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