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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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Himachal: COVID-19 Claims 13 Lives as State Reports Over 900 Cases in 24 Hours

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 report april 14

Shimla- COVID-19 claimed 13 more lives in Himachal Pradesh as the state recorded 925 new cases in 24 hours. According to the latest update released by the State health department, Kangra district reported the highest 178 cases, followed by Solan (143), Mandi (114), and Shimla (104). 

As a matter of concern, 48 students of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya School, Sarol, in Chamba district also tested positive, creating a stir in the region. Samples of the staff were also taken following it. The school was declared as a containment zone. 

Find more district-wise details of daily cases below:

Himachal Pradesh Daily covid-19 deaths apri 14, 2021

Kangra district also reported the highest six COVID-19 deaths, followed by Shimla (3), Mandi (2), and Una (2). The deceased were aged between 42 – 84 years and included eight females and five males. Find the details of the deceased below:

Himachal Pradesh daily covid-19 cases on april 14, 2021

The case and death tallies in the state have now jumped to 72,319 and 1135 respectively.

While speaking to the media today, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur admitted that the surge in cases is rising across the nation, but maintained that there were no plans to impose a lockdown in the state so far.  

The state government, however, today decided to postpone the ongoing examinations for undergraduate classes and 10 and 12 classes of the HP Board of School Education.

 

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Himachal: Daily New COVID-19 Cases Crosses 1000 Mark, State Govt Directs Admins & Police to Show Strictness in Implementing SOPs

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Himachal Pradesh daily COVID-19 update april 12

Shimla– Reeling under the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Himachal Pradesh continues to report a huge surge in daily new cases and fatalities. On Monday, the state recorded 1089 cases – the highest in 24 hours this year. Nine more people succumbed to the infection, taking the COVID-19 death tally to 1111. Highest three deaths were reported from Una district, followed by Mandi (3).  View more details on fatalities below:

covid-19 deaths

Kangra district reported the highest 249 cases, followed by Solan (166), and Lahaul-Spiti (114). Find more district-wise details below:

himachal pradesh covid-19 surge

Source: HP NHM

Today’s cases also include former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh, who tested positive. Earlier, his son Vikramaditya had also tested positive for COVID-19. Pertinent to mention that Vikramaditya Singh had campaigned in the Municipal Corporation elections that were concluded on April 7. 

Further, 18 cases were reported from Pine Grove School, Solan. 

The state government, which had been mostly showing a casual approach towards the surge since the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic, is now coming hard on it in its review meetings.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is now asking elected representatives of the local bodies to ensure that the people strictly follow the SoPs regarding temples and marriages.  The PRI members are being directed to motivate and advise the old people, those with co-morbidity to avoid going to public places as they are most prone to this virus.

“Such persons must be reverse quarantined meaning that their movement outside their houses should be minimized to the extent possible,” Chief Minister today said.

Yesterday the state government had made it mandatory for people arriving from seven high load states to carry RT-PCR negative report. The decision would apply from April 16 onwards, the government had decided.  However, he had added, that the state would remain open for tourists.

Chief Minister has asked the representatives of the PRI to keep an eye on the people visiting from other State, particularly from the high load states.

“As far as possible such people must be asked to remain in home quarantine for 10 to 14 days and getting themselves tested for COVID-19 and should not mix with the general public of the area,” he said.

The Transport Department was directed to ensure the sanitization of buses and other public transport.  Shopkeepers were told to strictly follow the ‘No Mask, No Service’ policy. Private bus operators were also asked to properly sanitize their buses and also ensure plying buses without overcrowding.

District administrations were asked to ensure that social functions such as marriages etc. strictly follow the maximum limit prescribed for such events.

Chief Minister said that action if required could be taken against the violators.

The District administration of Kullu district was directed to ensure that all the tourists visiting the district strictly follow SoPs issued from time to time. He told the administration that all the guidelines need to be followed and implemented strictly.

He said that the Ayurveda Department must also provide ‘kada’ to the patients under home isolation. The Police Department was directed to ensure that no casualness be adopted by the tourists, particularly in tourist spots such as Manikaran, Kasol, Manali etc.    

Deputy Commissioner Mandi Rugved Thakur, informed that 1,33,878 total sample done in the district, active cases were 443 and positivity ratio was 8.25 percent and fatality rate 1.2 percent. He said that 51 per cent cases in the district were from urban areas.

 

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HP Govt Makes RT-PCR Negative Report Mandatory for People Arriving from Seven States

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entry of tourists in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Tourist movement to Himachal Pradesh is likely to get hit during the peak season as the state government has made it mandatory for people of seven high load states viz. Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh need to carry 72-hour prior RT-PCR negative report while visiting the State. The restriction would apply after April 16th.

The decision came after Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who had been insisting that there would be no restriction on tourist movement to avert economic losses to the tourism industry, held a review meeting amid a massive surge in new cases and deaths.  

The state government has decided to allow tourists to visit the State, but at the same time, hotel owners and tourists should strictly adhere to the SoPs, Chief Minister said.

“The virus was spreading at a fast pace which was the biggest concern. During the last 45 days, the State has reported 10,690 new covid cases. 120 deaths were reported in the State during the last 45 days,” he said.

Over 900 new cases with 12 fatalities were reported on Saturday only.  On Sunday, according to the Health Department’s daily update, the state recorded 512 new cases. 

Pertinent to mention that Maharastra, Delhi and a few other states had been suggesting that a complete lockdown could be imposed if the high rate of resurgence continued in the coming days.

Though the Chief Minister had been maintaining that lockdown would be the last resort, the tone appears to be changing with the worsening of the COVID-19 situation.

Further, laying stress on twin strategy for testing, tracing and treatment with effective surveillance of micro containment zones, Chief Minister said that greater emphasis must also be laid on RT-PCR tests to achieve the target of 70 percent RT-PCR tests.

He said that the State Health Department must also take steps to increase bed capacity to meet out any eventuality.

Meanwhile, no restriction has been put on the devotees visiting various temples in the State during the Navratri festival.

The government said no overcrowding would be allowed in buses and other public transport and private vehicles. Wearing face masks even in vehicles must be enforced strictly.

Chief Minister, who faced widespread criticism over violation of SOPs during the political campaigning for elections to the Municipal Corporations, blamed laxity shown by the people for a sharp resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the State.  

 

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