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Voices Rising in Himachal Against Citizenship Act, NRC Amid Nationwide Protest

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Protest against Citizenship Act in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-The resistance to Bharatiya Janata Party-led Indian Government’s controversial Citizenship Act, 2019, continues to grow as more and more people pour in on roads to join protests. Today violent protests were reported in Lucknow in which several vehicles were set ablaze and stones were pelted on the police. One protester was said to have died during the clash with police. Police is also facing hard-time in controlling the situation as protests continue to grow larger.

The politics is at its cheapest with the sabotage of peaceful protests through anti-social elements and BJP’s IT Cell trolling anyone who does not support CAA. Police forces are also bearing the brunt of this contentious legislation with reports of injuries to policemen during clashes with protesters.

Protesting voices are also rising in Himachal Pradesh with students of Himachal Pradesh University and some other organizations holding protests in Shimla.

On December 17, the Himachal Pradesh unit of All India Lawyers Union (AILU) had expressed its solidarity with the students of Jamia-Millia-Islamia, JNU, Delhi University, Aligarh Muslim University and all other educational institutes protesting against the CAA and NRC. AILU said it is the right of the students to protest against this amendment which is contrary to the secular structure of India and the basic structure of the Indian Constitution.

Today, students affiliated to Student Federation of India burned an effigy of the Home Minister, Amit Shah, at the Summerhill Chowk as a protest against the CAA and NRC. The students also condemned barbaric police action against students of Jamia Millia Islamia Central University. The students said the new Act is outrightly an attack on the Indian constitution’s secular structure. The Act contradicts Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, they argued.

Students asked as to why only persecution wasn’t made a criterion for granting citizenship instead of favouring some religions except for one.

Reportedly, cases were filed against several students over this protest.

The nation has begun to burn in the communal fire sparked by this decision of the Centre Government, the students said.

Akhil Bharatiya Janvadi Mahila Samiti also staged a protest against CAA across the State on December 19. In Shimla, a protest was staged by the Samiti in front of the Office of Deputy Commissioner, Shimla.

The Samiti alleged that this Act was introduced in a time when unemployment is at its peak, the nation’s economy is in the state of coma, and the rate of crime against women is growing consistently. The Samiti argued that education has become more expensive, thus, unaffordable for the poor. At the same time, the government is making cuts in the education budget and inflation is burdening the plebeian, it said.

The Samiti said the Central government deliberately introduced this Act to distract the media and the public from real issues.

This government is dividing the nation on the basis of religion, region, and cast.

The Samiti demanded the withdrawal of the legislation at the earliest.

In the evening today, CPI(M) along with Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Muslim Sudhar Samiti, and some other groups held a separate protest outside the DC Office, Shimla.

CPI(M) said that the Modi-led Centre government is implementing agendas of RSS and setting the nation ablaze in communal fire, and the CAA clearly confirms it.

Under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, every citizen has equal rights irrespective of their religion or caste, the State Secretary, CPI(M), Dr Onkar Shad said.

Families, especially economically weaker sections of minority and landless, would suffer most due to this discriminatory decision of the government to exclude one religion in the legislation, he said.

North-Eastern states will be affected adversely due to this CAA and NRC, he said.

He further said that as public is coming out on streets to protest against this discriminatory act, the government is resorting to use of police force to suppress their voices. The brutality of Delhi police in Jamia Millia Islamia case confirms that this government is inclined towards Fascist and dictatorial ideologies instead of upholding democratic values and respect the Indian Constitution, he further added.

He made a call to come out in protest against CAA and NCR in large numbers to give a befitted reply to the Centre Government.

Amid widespread protests in India against the Act, hundreds of protestors were detained by the police. Fearing more public protests, the government has gone on to impose Section 144 in Bengaluru, Uttar Pradesh and parts of Delhi to suppress resistance. Mobile services were suspended in some parts of Delhi as protesters marched towards the Red Fort.

However, protestors did not stop marching despite the enforcement of Section 144. A large number of educational institutes have now joined the protest across the nation.

A massive protest was reported from Bengaluru’s Town Hall despite the imposition of Section 144. In Mangaluru city, several policemen are said to have sustained injuries and two civilians were in ICU due to violent clashes.

Intellectuals and legal experts are of the opinion that this fire was ignited by the BJP Government’s paranoia to make India a Hindu Rastra by amending the Citizenship Act, 1955, which required an applicant to have resided in India for 11 years to gain citizenship.

There is a strong opinion that the government could have avoided exclusion on the basis of religion and damaging secular principals enshrined in the Constitution.

As per this legislation all persecuted Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Christians who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, from Bangladesh, Pakistan, or Afghanistan, would be given citizenship even if they do not possess any documents. However, this list does not include persecuted Muslims.

Another debate arising is that instead of mentioning religion as a criterion for granting citizenship, the government could have mentioned “immigrant religious minorities”.

Amid all chaos, the most relevant question is whether there was an emergency due to which India needed this new Act and NRC? The NRC in Assam took a decade and Rs 1,200 crore before it was completed. In order to implement this process across the nation, it would not only consume an insane amount of money but a large number of government employees and machinery too.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Be Careful About Fake News/Misinformation on Social Media: Education Minister

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HP Education minister Suresh Bhardwaj

Shimla-Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, while addressing youth at the 10th Bhartiya Chatra Sansad in New Delhi said, social media has many benefits like connectivity, easy access but there is a need to exercise caution while using this tool.

Sometimes social media spreads misinformation and fake news, we should be careful about what information we are consuming. We should learn to understand the difference between real and virtual life, he added.

The Education Minister also said that the youth should use their own identity and uniqueness and not rely too much on social media while making decisions.

The basic objective of education is to become a good citizen and to become successful in our professional and personal lives, he said.

The Education Minister was delivering a lecture on ‘Learn before you lean: Following social media and celebrities’ at the second session of the event which is being organised from 20th to 23rd February at Vigyan Bhavan New Delhi by Rahul Karad, Founder and Convenor of Bhartiya Chatra Sansad (BCS).

However, the degrading quality of education in the State’s government schools hardly suggests that the education minister is actually committed to create good citizens.

The massive fee hikes by Himachal Pradesh University are making education inaccessible. Private schools are prospering owing to poor quality of education in government schools. Parents are left with no choice but to pay hefty fees to private schools to ensure that their children get a better academic environment and basic facilities. At the same time, the ruling government in Delhi has proved that the academic environment and infrastructure of government schools can be changed for good easily.

Impressed with reforms in education in Delhi, during the United States President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to India next week, First lady Melania Trump is likely to visit a Delhi government school in South Delhi. As a part of various innovative steps to improve the education system, the Delhi government has introduced happiness curriculum. This curriculum was introduced for the students from Nursery to Class 8. Even some private schools later adopted it. Delhi government would be briefing Melania about the “happiness curriculum.”

Though politicians in India hardly follow what they preach, it is indeed the need of the hour that we filter what is being served on media and social media before believing it and making decisions based on it.

After witnessing unethical use of social media by political parties, during 2014 and 2019 General Elections, and lately in the recently concluded Delhi Assembly elections, for hate speeches, propaganda and spreading misinformation to manipulate voters, going completely against the ethics of politics, it is sarcastic to hear a politician asking people to beware of fake news and misinformation spread through social media. Not only politicians but mainstream media has also turned itself into a paid circus.

On some channels, journalists have even assumed the roles of judges instead of simply reporting facts. Together with paid media and social media, India’s politicians and religious organizations are experimenting with a divisive and communally polarizing politics. During the recent Delhi elections, journalists and politicians even turned themselves into jokers without caring about ethics and  their responsibility towards the nation.

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Video: Villagers Carry Pregnant Lady on Shoulders for 18 kms to Reach Hospital in Absence of Ambulance Road

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Kullu-The Himachal Pradesh Government on February 17, 2020, while announcing annual plan budget for session 2020-21, claimed that it has registered “remarkable growth” in health, education, horticulture and social services sectors.

However, the question over government’s claims arises after watching videos where people in Himachal’s rural area still don’t have access to even basic health facilities due to lack of ambulance roads. Residents carry patients on their shoulders in palanquins for several kilometers to reach the nearest road. Videos and reports of such cases regularly appear in regional pages of Hindi dailies, indicating hollowness of government claims of development.  

A video showing the plight of villagers in Sainj area of the district Kullu has been posted by locals where some local men and women are carrying a female on a makeshift palanquin on a tough acceding trail.

On Sunday morning, Sunita, experienced labour pain. The family asked other villagers for help. They prepared a make-shift palanquin by tying a chair to two logs.

When asked about the situation, the women said they are carrying a pregnant woman, Sunita, to hospital because the nearest motorable road is 18-20 kilometres far from their village Shaakati in Garapaarali (गाड़ापारली) panchayat. Two other villages in the same panchayat – Maraur and Shugad-also faces the same problem when they need to access health services.

The women said it took them over eight hours to carry the pregnant lady upto the road from where they arranged motorable transport to reach Banjar hospital.

Furious over the government and politicians, local women can be heard alleging that government of its indifference to their grievances and lack of facilities.

“Government will trace and find us anywhere when it is about seeking votes but no one comes back to attend us. Whenever villagers get sick, we carry them on shoulders to access health services,”

an elderly woman said while describing the plight of villagers.

In another clip, a woman carrying the palanquin can be seen complaining about the lack of an ambulance road.

“We need an ambulance road. That’s our demand,”

she said while gasping due to exhaustion.

As per another media report, the panchayat Pradhan, Bhaag Chand and other members of the panchayat also confirmed facing a huge inconvenience due to lack of a motorable road. They said governments kept changing but their panchayat did not get a road.  

Not just medical facilities, but villagers also complained that even most basic facilities are still out of their reach due to apathy of the government.

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Video of Closest Snow Leopard Encounter in Himachal’s Spiti Goes Viral

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viral Snow Leopard video spiti

Lahaul-Spiti-A video clip showing two Snow Leopards sighted in Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh is going viral on social media. It is being speculated that perhaps this is the closest encounter with a snow leopard, which was captured on a mobile camera by two locals.  

Snow Leopards are also called ghost cat for their solitary and elusive nature and incredible camouflage that makes spotting them extremely difficult. Spotting and capturing these ghost cats have been a dream for wildlife lovers, especially photographers.  

However, opposed to its nature, this majestic feline was seen taking a strolling down the Kaumik-Kaza road on Sunday evening. While one of the leopards-maintained distance from the vehicle,  the other one  came surprisingly close and appeared to be inquiring curiously.  

There are only about 500 Snow Leopards in India. Natives of Central Asia’s higher mountains, these exquisite creatures are only found in the States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, and Assam at elevations between 3,000 meters and 5,400 meters.

Other than India, these felines are found in Russia, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Snow leopards have thick grey and yellow-tinged fur, with solid spots on their head, neck and lower limbs and rosettes over the rest of the body. Rosettes are large rings enclosing smaller spots.  Snow leopards also have very long, thick tails that they use for balancing on rocks.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the global population of snow leopards is about 7,000. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have listed these animals as endangered.

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