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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. 

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HP By-Polls 2021: Silence Period Extended to Three Days

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Shimla-The campaigning period during Himachal Pradesh by-elections has been fixed from 10 am to 7 pm every day. The silence period has been extended from two days to three days before the closing date of voting, which will start after 6 pm on 27th October 2021.

During the no active campaigning by the candidates or political parties is allowed, and television or any digital media cannot carry any election-related matter.

This information was released by Chief Electoral Officer, Himachal Pradesh, C. Paulrasu. He said that the Election Commission of India has limited the period of campaigning during by-election 2021 in view of the guidelines issued for the prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has urged all the candidates and political parties participating in the by-elections of Mandi Parliamentary Constituency and Fatehpur, Jubbal-Kotkhai and Arki Assembly Constituencies to comply with these guidelines related to the election campaign.

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Nauni Varsity Scholar Naincy Bags Scholarship to Pursue PhD in France

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Solan: Naincy Sagar, an alumna of Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni has bagged a fellowship for pursuing PhD from France. Nancy has reached France and will be pursuing PhD in Forest Genetics from the University of Orléans under INRAE fellowship. INRAE is France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Naincy has completed her BSc Forestry from College of Horticulture and Forestry (COH&F), Neri in 2018 and MSc Forest Biology and Tree Improvement and Genetic Resources from UAS, Dharwad, under ICAR’s National Talent Scheme. Before leaving for France last week, Naincy was working as a Junior Research Fellow in a research project at COH&F, Neri.

She had applied for a PhD with a scholarship in Forest Genetics which was advertised by INRAE. Naincy was successful in the interview and was awarded a fellowship for three years for pursuing PhD at the University of Orléans. During the course of the PhD, she will receive a total scholarship of around Rs 70 lakh along with medical reimbursement. Naincy will be working on forest tree larch species in the Project titled ‘Vigour at what cost? ‘Trade-off’ of hybrid vigour in Larch-Phenological, morphological and physiological determinants of hybrid superiority in Larix X eurolepis’ with a team of 20 scientists of Joint Integrated Biology Research Unit having expertise in genetics, genomics and physiology for the enhancement of tree and forest diversity

Dr. Parvinder Kaushal, Vice-Chancellor of the university spoke to Naincy via web conferencing and congratulated her. Dr. Kaushal, who has also done his doctorate from France, shared some tips and suggestions. He asked Naincy to explore this opportunity to learn about new cultures along with doing research that could help to enhance and conserve forest wealth in the future.

Naincy expressed gratitude towards her father Satya Prakash Sagar (Retd. SDO BSNL) and mother Monika Sagar, who is working as SDO in BSNL for their continuous support for higher studies. She also thanked Vice-Chancellor Dr. Parvinder Kaushal, Dean Dr. Kamal Sharma and Dr. Dushyant Sharma, Project Investigator and all the university staff for their support and guidance. The university administration, Dean of COH&F Neri congratulated Naincy and wished her success.  

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Bad Weather Warning for Himachal, Tourists and Locals Advised Not to Venture into Higher Hills

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Shimla– The Himachal Pradesh Meteorological Department, Shimla, has predicted heavy to very heavy rains for middle and lower hills on October 17th and 18th. The Met has also issued orange and yellow alerts for various districts.

Meanwhile, heavy snowfall has been predicted in higher hills and advisory has been issued for both locals and tourists to avoid travelling to higher hills.

While a yellow alert with a prediction of thunderstorms and lightning at isolated places has been issued for Una and Hamirpur district on October 17, an orange alert with a prediction of heavy rainfall, thunderstorm, lightning and hailstorm at isolated places has been issued for Bilaspur, Chamba, Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Solan, Sirmaur, and Kinnaur.

For October 18, a yellow alert has been issued for Una, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Chamba, and Kullu districts and an orange alert for the remaining districts.

The Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul-Spiti, warned that in view of the Met Department’s forecast for the next two days, locals and tourists should avoid Manali-Leh National Highway (NH-03) and refrain from venturing into higher hills.

In case, travel is unavoidable due to some compelling circumstances, such candidates have been asked to confirm weather and road conditions on given telephone numbers, which are 9459661355, 01900-202509, 510, 517 and 1077.

The DC also informed that in case of any emergency, people should contact the District Disaster Management Cell, Lahaul-Spiti, on 01900 202509, 510, 517, and Tall Free -1077.

The weather is predicted to be dry on October 19 and 20. 

Feature Photo: Photo by Rodrigo Souza from Pexels

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