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Mass phone tapping: Himachal DGP transferred

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Mass phone tapping: Himachal DGP transferred

Himachal Pradesh’s top police official has been transferred after chief minister Virbhadra Singh alleged that his phones, along with those of hundreds of others, had been tapped and rooms bugged when he was in the opposition.

Director general of police ID Bhandari was removed hours after the chief minister’s allegation, sources said on Tuesday. Bhandari was heading the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) when the alleged illegal tapping of over 1,000 telephones of politicians, bureaucrats and high-ranking officials took place during the previous BJP regime led by Prem Kumar Dhumal.

Bhandari has changed places with B Kamal Kumar, who was heading the home guards and fire services, official sources said. Official sources told IANS that the decision to replace Bhandari was taken Monday night after the screening committee on appointments, headed by chief secretary Sudripta Roy, cleared Kumar’s name for the top post.

Both Kumar and Bhandari belong to the 1982 batch of the Indian Police Service, but the former is retiring in July. On Monday, the chief minister had indicated that former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal was involved in the phone-tapping case.

A senior official, who didn’t wish to be identified, said the state had already sought legal opinion on the implications of mass surveillance of telephones without following norms.

He said a first information report under the Indian Telegraph Act could be registered. A just-concluded inquiry of the state forensic science laboratory found that the previous government had recorded telephonic conversations between 2008 and 2012 on a large scale.

Virbhadra Singh said the former chief minister could not absolve himself of blame. Mincing no words, he said that more than 1,000 telephones were tapped by the BJP government.

“The privacy of certain political leaders was infringed upon. The number of phones tapped clearly indicated malafide intention of the then government,” Virbhadra Singh told reporters.

Clarifying his position, Dhumal told IANS that permission for tapping the phones was given by the home department, and the chief minister’s office had nothing to do with it.

“Dhumal was also the home minister, so how can he deny responsibility or knowledge of the phone tapping? How can he say he had no knowledge (of the recording of calls)? It was his moral responsibility. The brain behind it all was the (former) chief minister’s,” Virbhadra Singh said.

Official sources said the government ordered seizure of the computers of the CID December 25, the day the incumbent chief minister assumed charge.

They said most of the conversations were of Congress leaders, who were then in the opposition.

The conversations of some top government functionaries, BJP dissidents and journalists also figured in the long list.

“What is clear from this (forensic science) report is that the BJP government was indulging in a conspiracy of surveillance on senior opposition leaders. I was on the top of the list. There were even instances of bugging in my offices (in Himachal Bhawan) during my Chandigarh visits,” the chief minister said.-IANS

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Misc News/Press Release

Bat deaths in Himachal not due to Nipah Virus, Don’t panic: Govt

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Nipah virus in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla: To put an end to the rumours of Nipah virus outbreak in Himachal Pradesh after dead bats were found in Sirmaur a couple of days ago and then in Mandi district on Friday, the State Government today issued a statement asking people not to panic about it.

Apart from the outbreak of Nipah Virus in two districts of Kerala State no information regarding its spread has been reported from any other part of Himachal as well as the country, stated Additional Chief Secretary, Health B.K. Agarwal in a meeting held here today.

He said that only fruit bats (flying fox) have been found carrying this virus. These types of bats are found in the coastal regions of the county.

Therefore, there is no possibility of Nipah Virus in the bats found in Himachal Pradesh.

He said that the bats reported having died in the state were not due to the virus as these species do not die by Nipah Virus.

Agarwal said that a few days back samples from dead bats in Sirmaur were collected and sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune for testing and all the samples were reported negative for Nipah Virus.

Additional Chief Secretary has advised people not to panic about the Nipah Virus. He said that all the medical colleges of the State were prepared to deal with the situation if needed.

Officers of Health, Animal husbandry, Forest & Horticulture department were present in the meeting, chaired by Agarwal.

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Misc News/Press Release

Met predicts state-wide rains in Himachal on May 31 and June 1

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rain prediction for himachal in 2018

Shimla: As a ray of hope amid acute water-scarcity prevailing in Himachal Pradesh’s various regions including the capital town Shimla, the Meteorological Department, Shimla, has predicted state-wide rain with thunderstorms on May 31 and June 1.

If lucky, four districts including Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, and Shimla can receive a spell of rain on May 29 and 30 too.

With the rains, the people also hope to see a relief from the scorching heat of summer sun and forest fires. The Fire Department is reportedly facing trouble in dousing forest fires due to water scarcity.

As per the Met department, District Bilaspur and Una recorded 41℃ and 43℃ temperature on Saturday.

The farmers in rural areas and the public in towns, both are facing a hard time due to a shortage of water. Shimla town has run into a situation of chaos as the Mayor Kusum Sadret on Friday left for her China visit. The situation is such that the Chief Minister had to call an emergency meeting with Irrigation & Public Health Department to take stock of the situation.

The High Court had also taken cognizance of the media report and directed the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to provide adequate funds to the State for water-supply schemes worth over Rs. 700 crores.

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Amid grave water-crisis in Shimla town, Mayor on China tour for reason unknown

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shimla-to-china--mayor-Kusum-Sadrate

Himachal Watcher tried to confirm the urgency behind the Mayor’s visit to China in times of such crisis when she should have been brainstorming with her councillors to come out with a solution.

Shimla: The Mayor of Shimla town, Kusum Sadret, on Friday left for China, away from the chaos caused by the ongoing water-crisis that has reached an alarming level. Her Ward Councilors are shocked that the Mayor did not even conduct a single meeting to attend to the water crisis in the town, which is only worsening with each passing day.

Yesterday, she remained in the news as SMC supplied ‘sewerage contaminated’ water to the residents of Kanlog Ward. The public and opposition parties are seeking action against the responsible officials for playing with the health of the people by supplying them contaminated water in a time of acute water shortage.

This is not the only reason to worry. The people are forced to fetch water from natural water sources, which are already declared contaminated. Sadly, the Government and the SMC forgot the deadly jaundice outbreak in 2016 that had killed about 32 people within a few months.

The Mayor doesn’t deserve to be at the SMC because she has failed on every front ranging from sanitation to supply of clean and sufficient drinking water to the people, the former Mayor of Shimla, Sanjay Chauhan said.

He has demanded that the government should take the matter seriously and initiate criminal proceedings against the responsible officials. Meanwhile, the Councillors had yesterday planned a protest and gherao of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. However, they did not find them in office.

The public is receiving a supply of water after a gap of four to five days in most wards while some others are going without water for over a week now.

The water-crisis has brought the hospitality industry in Shimla on its knees. People are forced to buy mineral water as public taps and filters in offices, schools, hospitals are running dry for days. The Shimla Municipal Corporation doesn’t even have sufficient water-tankers to make up for the shortage of water.

A sort of protest erupted among the people as well as the Councilors against the Mayor. The Mayor was even gheraoed by the people in some localities.

While the protest of the Congress Ward Councilors demanding the resignation of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor was obvious, Bhartiya Janata Party’s own Councilors have come out openly criticizing the way Mayor left them behind to face the wrath of the people.

Leaving the battleground at such a time is condemnable.

It appeared that there must be some urgent reason behind discarding distressed people from the list of her priorities for a visit to foreign.

Himachal Watcher tried to confirm the urgency behind the Mayor’s visit to China in times of such crisis when she should have been brainstorming with her Councillors to come out with a solution. The Deputy Mayor did not pick up the phone. Everyone else at the Shimla Municipal Corporation said they were not aware of the purpose of the visit.

When Himachal Watcher contacted the MC Commissioner, Rohit Jamwal, he also denied having any knowledge regarding the purpose of this visit of the mayor. The Commissioner also denied having any knowledge regarding the return of the Mayor.

He said he could only confirm that she has left for China.

The only hint available is some unofficial reports that suggested that Sadret would be attending the International Mayor’s Conference in China. Otherwise, her visit is a sort of secret mission, which is why no one is aware of it. Maybe, she’ll bring a solution to the ongoing chaos from China.

The Councilors are blank as the people of their wards demand supply of water on at least alternate days. The Mayor made a wrong choice, the Councillors agreed, adding that a leader should not run away when the people need him/her most.

The public can be heard comparing the tenure of Sanjay Chauhan with Kusum Sadret. We were better off with previous MC, a couple of shopkeepers at Boileauganj heard discussing.

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