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HP Govt Constitutes ‘General Category Commission’ Within Hours As Protestors Create High Voltage Drama in Dharamshala

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Commission for General Category in Himachal Pradesh

Dharamshala-A Commission for General Category in Himachal Pradesh – Samanya Varg Ayog- was formed within a few hours by the HP Government on Thursday. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur yielded to the warning given by the people of the general category to press NOTA in the elections next year. What made him accelerate this process was the Gherao of Tapovan Vidhan Sabha, Dharamshala, on the first day of the winter session by thousands of protestors from the general category under the banner of Devbhoomi Swarn Morcha and Devbhoomi Kashatriya Sangathan.   

The protestors had earlier warned to gherao the Assembly complex on the first day of the winter session, and they did do it. But the bigger concern for the Jairam Thakur-led government was the warning from the people of the general category to press the NOTA button in the next Assembly elections due to be held in 2022. In Himachal Pradesh, according to the 2011 census, more than 50% population belong to the general category, making it the majority vote bank. Moreover, these organizations had claimed that the reason for the defeat of BJP on the Mandi Lok Sabha seat in the recent by-elections was a result of pressing the NOTA button.

The protestors broke the police barricades and breached the security to gather outside Vidhan Sabha. Some of the protestors also tried to enter the complex. According to the reports, when the police force tried to scatter the crowd with water cannons, the protestors pelted stones in which a fire tender and the vehicle of the SSP were damaged.

The protestors had reportedly Gheraoed the vehicles of DGP and the Deputy Commissioner, Nipun Jindal. They also warned of blocking all the exit routes from the Assembly complex. They demanded the presence of the Chief Minister to address their demand.

Amid this charged up atmosphere, the police, as well as the state government, surrendered to the protestors. The protestors didn’t listen to the Director-General of Police, HP, Sanjay Kundu, or Ministers Suresh Bhardwaj and Mahender Singh who tried to calm them down. Ultimately, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur was made to come out and negotiate. The Chief Minister sought more time for the formation of the Commission. However, the protestors didn’t accept this offer and demanded a written assurance. This made the Chief Minister go back to the Assembly session and make an immediate announcement for the formation of a Commission for the people of the general category.

Within a few hours, Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar issued a notification that said that permission was granted for constituting commission for the general category.

Earlier, the protestors had gathered one kilometre from the Assembly complex at Zorawar Stadium. The police failed to hold the protestors there owing to their huge number.

The Chief Minister justified that this demand was long pending, hence, the HP Government had to take the decision to constitute the Commission. 

These organizations from the upper castes had recently carried out a “Shavyatra” over their demand for the formation of Commission on the lines of SC/ST Commission. They had also carried out a foot march from Shimla to Haridwar and back to Dharamshala. They brought “Ganga Jal” from Haridwar and were adamant that they would carry out purification of all legislators with it.

After the official announcement of the Chief Minister, the Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, was seen in a photo reportedly carrying a vessel filled with “Ganga Jal” into the Assembly.

This movement for the formation of the Commission for general category was ignited as a reaction to the reservation given to the SC/ST categories. Now, this decision is likely to intensify the rift between the above-mentioned categories. Now, Himachal Pradesh has become the second state  in the country after Madhya Pradesh to constitute a Commission for the general category. For better or worse, the politics in the state has gained a new dimension under the current BJP regime. 

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Mandi Hooch Case: Political Storm Over Arrest and Expulsion of Hamirpur Congress Leader

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Hamipur district congress neeraj thakur

Mandi-On Sunday, the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee expelled General Secretary of the Hamirpur District Congress Committee following his arrest from Chandigarh in alleged connection with the Mandi hooch case.

It’s pertinent to mention that last week seven persons had lost their lives in two days and eight others are still hospitalized due to consumption of spurious liquor in Salapar area of Sundernagar Tehsil, Mandi district. Following this tragedy, a police SIT was formed, various places were raided, seizures of incriminating materials were made, several persons were arrested. So far, the police have arrested 13 persons in this connection and more arrests could be made as the SIT unfolds layers of people involved.

Neeraj Thakur, who was said to have risen to a political leader from a salesman at a liquor shop, had created an empire for himself allegedly from the illicit trade of spurious liquor. The worth of his properties and assets is being assessed, but the initial reports suggested his assets were disproportionate to his income. Now every political leader he was in contact with is under the scanner of the police SIT.

Also Read: Mandi Hooch Case: HP Police Claim Bursting Large-Scale Illicit Liquor Trade, Nabs Kingpin

According to Superintendent of Police, Mandi, Shalini Agnihotri, on Sunday, police detained Praveen Thakur, who is a resident of Hamirpur, two persons, identified as Sunny and Pushpender of Uttar Pradesh, AK Tripathi of Jammu and Kashmir, and Sagar Saini of Delhi. The police have claimed that it has also apprehended the kingpin.

The state Congress chief and the opposition leader Mukesh Agnihotri who had been issuing statements holding the BJP government responsible for the Mandi hooch tragedy is on backfoot following the expulsion of Neeraj. At the same time, the failure of the state Excise and Taxation Department in checking this flourishing illicit trade of spurious liquor right under its nose is also evident.

State BJP general secretary Trilok Jamwal, State BJP spokesperson Baldev Tomar and co-media-in-charge Karan Nadda on Sunday issued statements referring to the expulsion of Neeraj as evidence that the Congress leaders were involved in, as well as, patron of liquor mafia in the State.

Further, with elections to the Shimla Municipal Corporation and elections to the state Assembly later this year, this issue has turned into a political storm.  

According to the SIT investigation, the illicit liquor factory was operating in Hamirpur District and raw materials were procured from both within and outside the State. The police said that Gaurav Manhas appears to be the kingpin of the illegal trade. Gaurav, with the assistance of Praveen, Pushpender and Sunny from UP, was running this illegal bottling plant at Hamirpur building owned by Praveen.

In addition, the DGP informed, Manu and Gagan were his partners in the bottling plant busted under the jurisdiction of Police Station Nalagarh. Gaurav has a strong network of distributors and supply chains for raw materials and finished liquor.

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Mandi Hooch Case: HP Police Claim Bursting Large-Scale Illicit Liquor Trade, Nabs Kingpin

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mandi liquor hooch case

Mandi-Mandi hooch case has brought shocking facts to light. An organized illicit liquor trade flourished in a village of Hamirpur district right under the nose of the Excise and Taxation Department and the police. It wasn’t a minor business but had inter-state links too. Named ‘Rainbow Café, a factory was operating in a building in a village of the district.

According to the initial police investigation, it was believed the deaths were caused by either improper mixing of the ingredients, or because a part of the spirit procured for the production of liquor may be impure and contained methyl alcohol instead of ethyl alcohol.

It raises another crucial question; can such an organized, large scale illicit business flourish without political patronage? 

Shaken by the death of seven persons due to consumption of spurious liquor in the Salapar area of Sundernagar Tehsil, the State Police formed a Special Investigating Team to investigate the case. According to the police, as the scope of the investigation had expanded, the state police included Arjit Sen (SP Una), Mohit Chawla (SP Baddi), Arvind Digvijay Negi, ASP Kangra and Yogesh Rolta (SDPO Parwanoo) in the SIT.

The police raided different places in different districts, collected evidence and seized a large amount of incriminating material.

The police had nabbed four persons in this connection. On Saturday, the Director-General of Police, Sanjay Kundu, held a press conference and claimed to have busted the illicit liquor business by arresting the prime suspect who was identified as Narender alias Kalu – a resident of village Maloh in the district. He was on the run following the deaths.

During the questioning, Kalu revealed that the main supplier of this illicit liquor consignment was one Gaurav Manhas alias Goru of Palampur. A police team traced his location and apprehended him from a hotel in Zirkpur on Friday.

On being questioned by the SIT, it was found that Goru belonged to the Panchrukhi area of Kangra. According to the police investigation, Goru was running an illicit bottling unit at Hamirpur in collusion with Praveen Thakur. It was also revealed that the raw material for production and packaging was received from other persons belonging to different states.

One Sagar Saini, who belonged to Delhi, supplied the spirit drums and AK Tripathi, who hailed from Samba, Jammu and Kashmir, provided the formula, the police said.

Further, it was revealed that the bottling unit in Hamirpur was run by two persons who belonged to Uttar Pradesh. The duo was responsible for mixing ingredients for the manufacture of liquor. Empty bottles were procured from ‘kabaddi’ in Hamirpur and bottles, caps, boxes and cartons were supplied from Parwanoo. VRV Santra stickers were created by a graphic designer.

Following Seizures Were Made from Hamirpur

1. More than 6000 bottles filled with illicit liquor labelled as “VRV Fools Pvt. Ltd.”,
2. five plastic tanks (300 Its each),
3. seven boxes containing bottle caps marked “VRV foods Ltd.”,
4. nine plastic drums (50. Its each),
5. one carton containing 136 strips of labels marked “Santra, VRV Fools Pvt. Ltd.”
6. 124 sheets containing more than 2500 holograms,
7. 18 plastic tag rolls marked VRV Foods,
8. one carton containing four bottles (500 ml each)
9. one jerry cans (5 Its) containing flavour,
10. three aluminium katchhhi, two bottle sealing machines,
11. one plastic jerry can filled with coloring material for the illicit liquor,
12. 56 plastic bags filled with more than 2500 empty bottles,
13. more than 2000 empty cartons marked “VRV Foods Ltd”,
14. one bottle filling machine,
15. seven stamps marked with impression of Batch No. 61, 62 and 361; 33 distilled water plastic containers (20 Its each)

These items were seized from the illegal premises busted at Panyala village, Hamirpur. The premises was marked as “Rainbow Café”.

At the instance accused Goru, another bottling plant was located under Station Nalagarh which was subsequently raided by police in Baddi.

The suppliers of holograms, labels, cartons, used bottles, spirit, bottles caps and material for the illicit production have been identified and apprehended during searches in the neighbouring districts Kangra, Solan, Hamirpur.

According to the SIT investigation, the illicit liquor factory was operating in Hamirpur District and raw materials were procured from both within and outside the State. The police said that Gaurav Manhas appears to be the kingpin of the illegal trade. Gaurav, with the assistance of Praveen, Pushpender and Sunny from UP, was running this illegal bottling plant at Hamirpur building owned by Praveen.

In addition, the DGP informed, Manu and Gagan were his partners in the bottling plant busted under the jurisdiction of Police Station Nalagarh. Gaurav has a strong network of distributors and supply chains for raw materials and finished liquor. The racket included the following major partners:

1. Gaurav Manhas alias Goru (kingpin),
2. Praveen (owner of the building used as an illegal bottling plant)
3. Pushpender and Sunny (workers in the plant)
4. Manu and Gagan (prime suspects in Nalagarh case)

The DGP said that further investigation is underway and a clearer picture will emerge after the collection of evidence and interrogation of all accused.

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Adi Badri Dam in Himachal Pradesh to be Constructed for Rs. 215.35 crores, MoU Signed

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Adi Badri Dam in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-Adi Badri Dam in Himachal Pradesh would be constructed near the Adi Badri area of Yamuna Nagar district of Haryana at Panchkula on 77 acres. Rs 215.35 crores would be spent on the rejuvenation of the Saraswati River. This is what an MoU signed by the Himachal Pradesh and Haryana Government proposes.

The HP Government claimed that Himachal Pradesh would be benefited from the project as 3.92-hectare metre water per annum would be earmarked for the state for drinking water requirement and 57.96-hectare metre for irrigation water demand of the project affected habitations.

The entire funding of the Project would be arranged by the Haryana Government. Both the Governments would be free to prepare the Tourism Projects as well as any other infrastructure facilities from their own resources, the state government said.

According to the HP Government, only 21 families of the State would be displaced and they would be properly rehabilitated. The cost of rehabilitation package for oustees and environmental protection package in accordance with prevalent policies of Himachal Pradesh as well as any other prevalent laws or any other unforeseen cost/ expenditure in this regard related to Adi Badri Dam in future would be borne by the Government of Haryana and no liability on this account would be passed on to Himachal Pradesh

The state government also claimed that on completion of this Project, River Saraswati would again come alive. Out of the total proposed area, 31.16-hectare land falls in Himachal which include 0.67-hectare private land and 30.49-hectare forest land. The Dam would get 224-hectare metre water from the Somb River of Himachal Pradesh that falls in Yamuna near Adi Badri in Yamunanagar district. The HPPCL would be executing agency for the construction of Adi Badri Dam and its related infrastructure. 

The Haryana state government said that Adi Badri Dam Construction Monitoring Committee has been constituted for planning, supervising and monitoring of Adi Badri Dam works which comprise of Additional Chief Secretary Irrigation Haryana, Secretary Jal Shakti Vibhag Himachal Pradesh, Engineer-in-Chiefs and other representatives of both States.

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