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Virbhadra Singh Passes Away at 87, Leaves Big Vacuum in Himachal’s Political Sphere



Virbhadra singh death

Shimla-Virbhadra Singh – Himachal Pradesh’s most popular leader and the face of the Indian National Congress in the Hill state – passed away today morning at about 3: 40 am at the Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, where he was admitted following post-Covid complications.

Singh was suffering from bad health since he first tested positive for Covid on April 12 but recovered. In June, he was re-infected and had to be hospitalized. He again recovered, but this time, comorbidities and old age conspired with post-Covid complications and led to Singh’s demise this morning. He remained hospitalized for nearly two months. 

The IGMC authorities confirmed the report. Singh – a six-time Chief Minister and a five-time member of parliament- has left the entire state mourning as he enjoyed a massive public connect  and appeal. He has also left a vacuum in the party as no other leader enjoys stature as big as Virbhadra Singh.  

The Himachal Pradesh Government has announced a state mourning of three days. There will be no official entertainment during this period. All state government offices including Boards, Corporations and Autonomous Institutions except the offices dealing with the essential services shall remain closed on 8th of July, 2021.

The mortal remains of Singh would remain at his residence, Holy Lodge in Shimla, today. Tomorrow, the mortal remains would be kept at the Shimla Ridge Maidan from 9 am to 11 am and then at the HPCC headquarters from 11am to 1pm. Then the family would departure to Rampur. Singh would be cremated on July 10 in Rampur with state honor. A large number of people including leaders and government officials, including Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, paid tribute to the departed soul at his residence. A large number of people are heading to his residence to pay obeisance. 

Meanwhile, leaders and ministers from across the nation were paying tribute to Singh- popularly addressed as Raja Ji/ Raja Saheb.

Singh, born into the Rampur-Bushahr royal family on June 23, 1934, studied at the Bishop Cotton School and graduated from St Stephen’s College, Delhi.

He is survived by his wife Pratibha Singh, who is also a former MP, and Son, Vikramaditya Singh, who is a sitting MLA from Shimla (rural) constituency.  Singh had vacated the constituency for his son in the 2017 elections to the state legislative assembly and had fought and won the seat from the Arki constituency.

Singh was first elected to the parliament in 1962 at an age of 27 – the youngest in the Lok Sabha back then. He was elected as an MP in 1962, 1967, 1971,  1980, and 2009. He was elected as the Chief Minister five times –  from 1983 to 1990, from 1993 to 1998, from 2003 to 2007 and from 2012 to 2017.

 He also served as the president of the HP Congress Committee in 1977, 1979, 1980 and 2012.

Between 1982 to 1983, Singh also served as Minister of State for Industries, and Union Minister of  Steel, between 2009 to 2011 and Union Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) from between 2011 to 2012.

In his political career, Singh fought 16 elections, of which he lost only twice. He had lost elections in 1977 due to widespread unrest over emergency imposed by the then Congress government. On the second occasion, in 1990, Ram Lal Thakur had managed to defeat him in the elections to the state legislative assembly. Other than that, in 1998, Singh remained Chief Minister for only 18 days as his Ramesh Dhwala, who had won as an independent candidate and joined hands with Congress to form the government, withdrew his support.



Haryana Tourists Fire Bullets in Air at Hatu Mata Temple, Brandish Rifle, Manhandle Priest



Hatu temple gun fire by tourists

Shimla-Following regular instances of hooliganism and assaults with weapons by tourists from neighbouring states, especially Punjab and Haryana, the Himachal Pradesh Police had announced regular checking of tourist vehicles on borders to prevent them from carrying weapons into the state. However, the tourists continue to bring weapons, including firearms, into the state.   

In a fresh incident, some tourists from Haryana on October 13, 2021, reportedly fired bullets in the air near the Hatu Mata Temple, Narkanda.  On hearing the sound of gunshots, the priest of the temple, Lalit Sharma, approached these tourists and objected to it. The tourists allegedly grabbed him by the neck and gave him life threats.

The priest freed himself somehow and immediately informed the temple committee about the incident. A member of the temple committee also informed the local police.

The priest said that a special pooja (worship) was organized at the temple on the occasion of Durga Ashtami and a large number of people was present inside the premises to participate in the pooja. This incident created panic among these devotees.

A taxi driver, Shravan Kumar, told police that two cars – HR 16X-3753 MG Hector & PB 26G-5555 Fortuner- were parked in the middle of the Hatu Mata link road, blocking the traffic. The tourists in these vehicles were brandishing guns and creating a nuisance. A short video clip showing one of these men brandishing a gun from their vehicle has also appeared. It was speculated that these men were intoxicated. 

Later, the local police arrived at the scene and apprehended about eight tourists for questioning. The police recovered a pistol, a rifle, and a dozen of bullets from the men. Cases were filed against two of them. When inquired in front of the temple committee, the two tourists told the police their names and addresses. They were identified as Kuldeep, 37, of Tehsil Lauharu, District Bhiwani, Haryana,  and Abhishek Kumar, 27, of district Bhawani, Harayana.

A case was filed at the Police Station, Kumarsain under Section 336, 34 of IPC and 25-54/59 of the Arms Act. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rampur, Chandrashekhar confirmed the report.

The temple committee has expressed concern over the incident and asked the police and the district administration to take stringent action against these men for hooliganism and creating a nuisance. The committee also urged that steps should be taken to prevent such incidents in the future.

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New Chief Justice of HP High Court Justice Mohammad Rafiq Takes Oath



New Chief Justice of Himachal PRadesh High Court justice mohammad rafiq

Shimla-The new Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, Justice Mohammad Rafiq, was today administered the oath of office by Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar in a ceremony held at Raj Bhawan.

Justice Mohammad Rafiq was born on 25th May 1960 at Sujangarh in the Churu district of Rajasthan. He completed B.Com in 1980, LL.B in 1984 and M.Com in 1986 from the University of Rajasthan.

He, later on, joined the Bar and practised as an Advocate after enrolment with the Bar Council of Rajasthan on 8th July 1984. He practised exclusively in Rajasthan High Court at Jaipur in almost all branches of law and specially conducted constitutional matters, service matters, land acquisition cases, land revenue cases, preventive detention cases, customs & excise matters, railway claims cases, tax matters, company matters and criminal matters before the High Court.

He worked as Assistant Government Advocate for the State of Rajasthan from 15th July 1986 to 21st December 1987 and Deputy Government Advocate from 22nd December 1987 to 29th June 1990. He appeared before the High Court as panel advocate for various Departments of the State Government for five years i.e. from 1993 to 1998.

He also represented the Union of India as Standing Counsel from 1992 to 2001 before the High Court. He also represented the Indian Railways, Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board, Rajasthan Board of Muslim Wakfs, Jaipur Development Authority, Rajasthan Housing Board and Jaipur Municipal Corporation before the Rajasthan High Court.

He was appointed as Additional Advocate General for the State of Rajasthan on 7th January 1999 and worked as such till his elevation to the Bench. He was appointed as Judge of the Rajasthan High Court on 15th May 2006. He also worked as Acting Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court twice; from 7th April 2019 to 4th May 2019 and from 23rd September 2019 to 5th October 2019. He was also the Executive Chairman of the Rajasthan State Legal Services Authority and the Administrative Judge of the Rajasthan High Court before elevation as the Chief Justice. He was the Chief Justice of the High Court of Meghalaya from 13th November 2019 to 26th April 2020. Justice Mohammad Rafiq was administered the oath of office of the Chief Justice of Orissa High Court on 27th April 2020, on being transferred from the Meghalaya High Court. He was administered the oath of office of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh on 3rd January 2021, on being transferred from the Orissa High Court.

The ceremony took place at the Darbar Hall of Raj Bhawan, where Chief Secretary Ram Subhag Singh conducted the proceedings of the oath ceremony and read out the notification issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Law and Justice regarding the transfer of Justice Mohammad Rafiq as Chief Justice of the HP High Court.

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HP Bypolls 2021: Bragta Doesn’t Withdraw Nomination, Remains Out of Sight Entire Day to Evade BJP Leadership



chetan bragta's election symbol is apple

Shimla-Chetan Bragta, who has revolted against the Bharatiya Janata Party over denial of ticket to him, didn’t withdraw his nomination. October 13 was the last day for the withdrawal of nominations.  BJP leaders, who had been claiming that Bragta would withdraw his nomination, kept searching for him throughout the day but couldn’t find him or connect to him.

As per reports, Bragta had disappeared this morning to avoid BJP leaders and his mobile numbers were also switched off. However, Bragta posted a video on social media after the time for withdrawal of nomination ended. In this video, Bragta informed that the Election Commission has allotted “apple” as his election symbol. He also said that he would not step back and would fight the elections as an independent candidate.

The reports also said that BJP workers and leaders kept searching for Bragta in order to convince him to withdraw his nomination. However, the reports said, to avoid this pressure for withdrawal, he decided to disappear and switch off his mobile numbers.

Meanwhile, there are speculations that BJP is likely to expel him from the party. BJP, while denying him a ticket for the HP by polls 2021, had cited discouraging ‘dynastic politics’ as the reason. 

Pertinent to mention that BJP had denied a ticket to Chetan Braga – son of former MLA Narender Bragta- from the Jubbal-Kotkhai Assembly seat that had fallen vacant after the demise of his father. The ticket was instead given to Neelam Seraik.

While the chances of Neelam’s victory already seems to be bleak, Chetan Bragta has further aggravated the tension for BJP. This rebellion could benefit Congress Candidate Rohit Thakur.

BJP had faced revolt on all three Assembly seats over denial of ticket. However, somehow it convinced the miffed leaders on Arki and Fatehpur Assembly seats to not file nominations as independent candidates. However, BJP failed to do so in the case of Chetan Bragta. BJP had been maintaining that there is no resistance to its selected candidates from within the party.

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