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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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101 Leprosy Cases Detected in Himachal During the Last One Year  

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leprosy cases in himachal pradesh

Shimla-A Spokesperson of the Himachal Pradesh Government today informed that under the National Health Mission, National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) is being implemented for the patients suffering from Leprosy. It aims to eliminate leprosy from every district of the Nation by 2030. He informed that the State of Himachal Pradesh has already eliminated leprosy by achieving the prevalence rate of less than 1 per 10,000 population in the year 2000.

The Government Spokesperson informed that the total number of new leprosy cases as detected from 1st April 2021 to 31st January 2022 is 101.

A maximum number of 29 cases were reported from the district Solan, followed by 18 from district Shimla, 12 from district Kangra, 9 from district Chamba, 8 from district Una. The 7 new cases of leprosy were detected in district Bilaspur, 6 in district Mandi, 5 in district Sirmaur, 4 in district Hamirpur and 3 in district Kinnaur. He added that no cases of leprosy were detected in district Kullu and Lahaul & Spiti.

The Government Spokesperson told that active case detection and regular surveillance activity is being conducted by ASHA workers in the villages where leprosy cases have been detected in the last 3 years. This is to ensure the detection of leprosy cases at an early stage to prevent any further disabilities.

He said that the ASHA workers are provided with an incentive for detecting new leprosy cases with or without disability (Rs. 250 and Rs. 200 per case). He added that the contacts of leprosy patients are also traced and provided free treatment post-exposure with a single dose of Rifampicin to prevent further transmission in the community.

The Government Spokesperson further added that the treatment of leprosy is being provided free of cost and available at all Primary Health Centres. The microcellular rubber (MCR) footwear are provided to leprosy patients twice a year. He said to ensure complete treatment of leprosy patients, ASHA workers are incentivized.

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HP Cabinet Decisions: All Educational Institutes to Open from Feb 17th, Several Covid Restrictions Lifted, Read Other Decisions  

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hp cabinet meeting february 14 2022

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet on February 14, 2022, held a meeting.

The State Cabinet decided to open all the educational institutions in the State from 17th February 2022. It also decided that all gyms and cinema halls would be opened and all kinds of langars would be allowed.

The Cabinet decided to grant revised pension/ family pension to about 1.73 lakh pensioners/family pensioners of the State from 1st February 2022. 

The State government said this decision would ensure the revision of pension/family pension of 1.30 lakh pensioners/family pensioners from 1st January 2016. About 43,000 employees, who have retired between 1st January 2016 and 31st December 2021 would also get revised pension and gratuity.

Now minimum pension/ family pension would increase from Rs. 3500 per month to Rs. 9000 per month from 1st January 2016, the HP government said. The limit of gratuity has been increased from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh from 1st January 2016 which would also be applicable for NPS employees.

Pensioners/family pensioners of the State above 80 years would be provided due additional pension benefit on revised pension/family pension. The Cabinet also decided to provide Invalid Pension and Family Pension to NPS employees of the State Government on which Rs. 250 crores would be spent.

The Cabinet also decided to provide 31 percent dearness relief to the pensioners from 1st July 2021. An annual additional expenditure of Rs. 1785 crore would be incurred on account of the revision of pension. The State Government said it had already provided Rs. 1450.44 crore to the pensioners as interim relief.

The Cabinet gave its approval for the creation and filling up of 8 posts of Sub Fire Officers in the Himachal Pradesh Fire Services Department on a contract basis through Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission.

 It also gave its approval to open three new Sub Fire Stations at Dheera in Kangra district, Bhatiyat in Chamba district and at Rewalsar in Mandi district and three new Fire Posts at Chirgaon in Shimla, Bhoranj in Hamirpur district and South Portal of Atal Tunnel Rohtang.

 It also gave its nod for creating and filling up of one post of Sub Fire Officer, 2 posts of Leading Fireman, 14 posts of Firemen, and six posts of driver-cum pump operator in each newly created Sub Fire Station and one post of leading fireman 

It also gave nod to fill up 12 posts of firemen and four posts of driver cum pump operator in each newly opened Fire Post

The Cabinet gave its nod to the draft of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Government and M/s NABARD Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd. for the hiring of Single Resource Consultancy to establish Project Management Unit.

The purpose, the government said, was the implementation of the new centrally sponsored scheme ‘Financing Facility under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’.  

The government said this scheme would help the farming community as interest subvention and credit guarantee would be given for the post-harvest infrastructure and building of community farming assets like e-market platforms, warehouses, silos, pack houses, cold chains etc

It decided to notify Sardar Patel University Mandi, Himachal Pradesh (Establishment and Regulation) Act, 2022 from 1st April 2022 to set up a new State University at Mandi.

It also decided to open Degree College Ghandalwi in Bilaspur district.

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HP Statehood Day 2022: Relaxation in Electricity Charges, Third Option in New Pay scale, Higher Pay scale to Constables and other Announcements

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Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government, on the 52nd Statehood Day, has made several announcements. It announced 31 percent DA to employees, relaxation on electricity charges up to 60 units, enhancement of annual income for availing benefit of pensions and welfare schemes.

Benefits of higher scales would be provided immediately to all those constables who were eligible for higher scales. All the constables appointed after 2015 would be eligible for higher scale as per other categories of employees, the government announced.

The State Government announced that now while implementing the new pay scale, the employees would be given a third option besides two options already given to them. The State has recently implemented new pay scales for employees of the State Government. The state government said it felt that few disparities existed in the new pay scales of few categories.

Pensioners of the State Government would also be given pension as per the new pay scales of the Punjab government, the government announced.

The government also announced 31 per cent DA to all the employees of the State at par with the Central Government employees. Also, an increase in annual income for availing the benefits of various welfare schemes and pensions for the weaker sections of the society from existing Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 was announced.

Now, the domestic consumers of the state whose electricity consumption is up to 60 units per month would not be charged any fee per electricity unit.  They would be incurred zero cost per unit of electricity consumed. With this decision, domestic consumers whose electricity consumption is up to 125 units, would be charged only one rupee per unit cost.  Over 11 lakh domestic consumers would be benefitted from this decision and the State government would incur an additional expenditure of Rs 60 crore on providing this relief, the government informed.

For the farmers in the state, the government announced to reduce the present per unit cost of electricity from 50 paise to 30 paise.  This benefit will be payable from April 2022.

Further, the HP Government said that in the year 1971, the per capita income of the state was only Rs 651 which has increased to Rs. 1,83,286, the GDP of the State has gone up from Rs 223 crore in 1971 to Rs 1,56,522 crore. The literacy rate of the State has gone up to 82.80 percent which was 23 percent in 1971. The agricultural production in the state has increased from 954 metric tons to 1500 metric tons and food grain production in 1971 was 9.40 lakh MT which has increased to 16.74 lakh MT, the state government said.

The state-level function of 52nd Statehood Day was celebrated at historic Thodo ground in Solan, where Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur unfurled the Tricolor and took salute from the contingents of Police, IRB Jungalberi, Home Guards and, NCC girls etc.

The parade was commanded by DSP Pranav Chauhan.

The Chief Minister also honoured three war widows of Solan District including Dil Kumari Thapa, Savitri Devi and Nirmala Devi on this occasion. Head constable Sandeep Chandel was also felicitated by the Chief Minister who has been awarded Prime Ministers Police Medal for life-saving for the year 2018.  

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