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Forest department takes charge to rejuvenate Rohtang

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SHIMLA- Following orders from National Green Tribunal (NGT), Himachal Pradesh forest department has taken charge of Rohtang area to bring back the beauty of the place. The department will be taking up new plantations of coniferous species to protect the fragile area from further degradation and also make special arrangements for tourists. the first phase of reforestation of Kothi, Gulaba and Marhi areas, the forest department has prepared a nursery near Gulaba where saplings of various species would be prepared. NGT has ordered to plant both conifer and broad leave species that can thrive in the area easily. There is also a plan to grow Himalayan herbs like kadu, patish and kunth. The forest department has built retaining walls to stop landslides while trees which were facing threat from landslide are also being protected. ~ TNN/Photo: sunshineanyday

Election Watch

Himachal BJP Chief Satti Barred from Campaigning by EC for MCC Violation

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Satpal Singh Satti Barred from Campaigning 1

Shimla-The Election Commission of India has barred Himachal Pradesh BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti from campaigning for 48 hours. This prohibition would begin from 10 am tomorrow onwards for two days for violating the Model Code of Conduct.

This makes him the first such leader from Himachal Pradesh who was barred from campaigning for violating MCC.

Satti had used an obscene slur for Congress chief Rahul Gandhi while addressing a public meeting in Shimla constituency’s Ramshahar in Nalagarh sub-division on April 14, 2019.  The EC had taken strict note of it and had issued a notice. Satti had filed a reply justifying himself that he was merely narrating a Facebook comment made by some other person. He also alleged media of presenting edited video clip with manipulations. However, this justification failed to appeal to the EC as the word used by Satti was highly derogatory.  

Also, it was alleged that Satti had made objectionable remarks over religious sect Radha Swami, for which he had also apologized.

Here is what Satti Had Said About Rahul Gandhi:

A couple of video clips were shared on social media after someone recorded his address on mobile cameras. 

However, Satti is yet to receive a response to the reply he has filed to a second notice served to him by EC for again making objectionable comments about Priyanka Vadra dressing and Rahul Gandhi’s bachelorhood in public meeting in Una.  The second notice was sent on the basis of video footage recorded by EC’s video surveillance team.

Himachal Pradesh Congress had launched a statewide protest against Satti along with submission of a complaint to the EC. An FIR was also lodged against Satti in relation to his derogatory comments.  Effigies were burnt at various places. Youth wing of the State Congress had smeared black paint on the face of Satti in BJP posters in Shimla. Former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had gone to the extent of saying that Satti had lost his mental balance.

State BJP leaders have so far avoided condemning Satti’s remarks, which also drew criticism from the opposition.

BJP leaders like Shanta Kumar, however, defended Satti. Shanta said Satti had apologized for his remarks. However, Satti had only apologized to Radha Swami organization. He had refused to apologize to Rahul Gandhi. He maintained that Rahul had also been addressing PM Modi as Chowkidar Chor or Chore while addressing rallies and public meetings.

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Misc News/Press Release

Kotkhai Custodial Death: After Zaidi, Ex-SP Shimla DW Negi Gets Bail Too

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Shimla-Ex-Superintendent of Police, Shimla, DW Negi, who is an accused in the custodial death in Kotkhai’s Gudiya case, is also out on bail after Ex IG Zahur H Zaidi. Zaidi was granted bail by the Supreme Court of India on April 5, 2019. He had pleaded to the court that over 19 months have passed since the filling of charge-sheet but nothing was proved in the trial so far.

On April 18, Justice Sureshwar Thakur of Himachal Pradesh High Court, granted bail to DW Negi on the same pretext. He appealed to the court that CBI has recovered nothing from him in relation to the case. Now, the chances are high that remaining seven accused police officials would also get bail using the same argument.

The conditions of his bail included furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs 3 lakhs and two local sureties. He would have to deposit his passport with the CBI. He will have to co-operate in investigation whenever the agency requires him.

A three-member team of CBI had arrested Negi on November 16, 2016, and was in jail since then. Before Negi, CBI had arrested ex-IG Zaidi and seven others on August 29, 2016.  All seven accused police officials were booked in relation to alleged conspiracy and custodial death of a Nepalese labourer Suraj.

Suraj was among the six initial accused arrested by Zaidi-led Special Investigation Team that was formed to probe alleged gang-rape and gruesome murder of a 16-year-old school going girl in July 2016. Later, when the case was transferred to CBI, the agency found that these six accused were innocent and were framed under a police conspiracy.


CBI had filed a chargesheet against the SIT members, I.G. Zahur H. Zaidi, D.S.P Theog Manoj Joshi, the then SHO Kotkhai Rajender Singh, ASI Deep Chand Sharma, Head Constables Surat Singh, Mohan Lal and Rafiq Ali and constable Ranjit Singh was filed in the special CBI court in November 2017.

The accused were charged under Section 302, 330, 331, 348, 323, 326, 218, 195, 196, 201 and 120 B. The chargsheet contains 600 pages including annexes and statements of about 50 eyewitnesses.

While granting Zaidi a bail, the Apex Court had stated in its order that;

  …Our attention has been drawn to the allegations against the accused-appellant and that he is in custody for the last 19 months. Though the accused-appellant is facing charge under Section 302, we are told that the trial has not made substantial progress beyond the framing of the charge. Completion of trial will take some time…

…the period of custody suffered and likely time that may be taken for completion of trial, we are of the view that the accused appellant should be released on bail in connection with FIR No.RC SI 2017 S0009 CBI/SC-I/New Delhi, on satisfaction of the appropriate condition(s) as may be imposed by the learned trial court…

The CBI had also pleaded in the court to shift the hearing of the case from H.P High Court to Delhi High Court for expeditious disposal. The Court did not adhere to this request and observed that the same would be considered after hearing all the accused.

Further CBI had also raised doubts that if the police officer was granted bail, he could influence and intimidate witnesses in the case as he was a high-rank police official. To this, the court observed that this cannot be a reason to deny bail at this juncture, and if such incidence comes to light then it is always open for CBI to apply for cancellation of Bail in the competent court.

The reason of delay in trial with a remark that nothing substantial had been done in the case after framing of charge had come to a major blow to the CBI.

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India’s Rank in World Press Freedom Index Drops to 140 in 2019, Report Points Out Hindutva and Nationalism Agendas

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India in world press freedom index 2019 report 2

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has been released today. As a matter of huge concern in the list of 180 countries surveyed, India has dropped down to 140th position from last year’s 138.  Norway was ranked at number one.

India has been placed close to Pakistan at 142, and Bangladesh at 150.

The overall findings showed hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media

As per the Index, threats, insults and attacks are now part of the “occupational hazards” for journalists in many countries.

“In India, where critics of Hindu nationalism are branded as “anti-Indian” in online harassment campaigns, six journalists were murdered in 2018,”

the RSF said in its Index.

Violence against journalists – including police violence, attacks by Maoist fighters, and reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt politicians – is one of the most striking characteristics of the current state of press freedom in India, the report said.

As per the RSF report, at least six Indian journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2018. A number of doubts surround a seventh case. These murders highlighted the many dangers Indian journalists face, especially those working for non-English-language media outlets in rural areas.

“Attacks against journalists by supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi increased in the run-up to general elections in the spring of 2019. Those who espouse Hindutva, the ideology that gave rise to Hindu nationalism, are trying to purge all manifestations of “anti-national” thought from the national debate,”

the report said.

“The coordinated hate campaigns waged on social networks against journalists who dare to speak or write about subjects that aggravate Hindutva followers are alarming and include calls for the journalists concerned to be murdered. The campaigns are particularly virulent when the targets are women,”

the report noted.

Further, the RSF report said that the emergence of a #MeToo movement in the media in 2018 has lifted the veil on many cases of harassment and sexual assault to which women reporters have been subjected. It also said that criminal prosecutions are meanwhile often used to gag journalists critical of the authorities, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124a of the penal code, under which “sedition” is punishable by life imprisonment.

 The mere threat of such a prosecution encourages self-censorship.

Coverage of regions that the authorities regard as sensitive, such as Kashmir, continues to be very difficult. Foreign reporters are barred from Kashmir and the Internet is often disconnected there,

RSF report said.

It also suggested that when not detained, Kashmiri journalists working for local media outlets are often the targets of violence.

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