When humanity and municipality failed in ShimlaShimla has got a bad name again. A four year old boy from the city was kidnapped two years ago and was allegedly murdered for ransom after some days. The child was tortured before he was allegedly done to death.What made it more ghastly was that the parts of his skeleton were reportedly found inside a Municipal Corporation’s water tank in Shimla, which may give some leads on the murder. The Crime Investigation Department (CID) probing the case reached these details last Monday on disclosure by one of the accused.
The heinous crime apart, the fact that the skeleton remained in the water tank unnoticed despite claims of regular cleaning of tanks by the MC has blown the lid off the ailing systems in the state capital. The MC, which was already in the eye of the storm, along with the Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) department, for worst ever jaundice outbreak earlier this year due to mixing of sewage with water supply scheme, is under fire again.
The locals are agitated over the brutal murder of the four year old boy and they even led a protest rally, asking for death penalty to the accused, who were all known to the family. They are equally angry with the performance of the Corporation, which, they say, can’t do it basic duty of supplying clean drinking water to the residents in the state capital.
The jaundice claimed over 20 lives in the city earlier this year. Now the people are fearful that they have been supplied water from a tank, in which the skeleton was found. The issue was well raised in the state assembly by BJP MLA from Shimla, Suresh Bhardwaj and Congress MLA from Kasumpti, Anirudh Singh. Along with the demand for hearing the case of murder of the four year old boy in a fast track court, both of them demanded action against the MC.
In strongest words, they criticized the CPM’s Mayor and Deputy Mayor for the failure and asked the government to dissolve the Municipal Corporation. The allegation was that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor had remained busy with foreign tours and had given a weak leadership to the MC, which has faltered badly in their tenure on issues one after another. Urban Development minister, Sudhir Sharma, who informed that the white substance found inside the water tank had been sent for forensic examination, assured the assembly that the government would consider dissolution of the MC.
In normal course, the present Corporation’s tenure ends in June next year. It is for the first time that the MC has been attacked so badly and there is a demand for its dissolution. And it is also for the first time that the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor, who are otherwise very vocal on issues in or out of their hands even while sitting at the decisive positions in the MC, are silent on the issue so far. The Deputy Mayor is on foreign tour again, and the Mayor has preferred to keep mum publically.
“They refused to take the onus on MC, when jaundice spread earlier this year. But now, they can’t get away. It is MC’s tank and both of them have been time and again mentioning that all the water tanks in the city have been cleaned after January this year. Then, how could the MC not see the skeleton, which has been found in the water tank now? Where is the monitoring?” said some agitated locals.
“Where are the CPM supported local organizations now? Why they are not raising their voice on this people’s issue now?” The questions trouble the locals, who, along with BJP and Congress, have been made to believe by circumstances that the experiment of direct election of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor in the Shimla MC for the first time in May, 2012 has failed. It led to the election of two pro-active CPM leaders on the top posts, with BJP and Congress councilors in majority in the house, and nothing moving in the field, mainly due to political conflict and inexperienced leadership.
Virbhadra government was however quick to make amends by rolling the previous BJP government’s decision back and reverting to the indirect elections of Mayor and Deputy Mayor. The government also took the decision not to hold MC polls on party symbols from now. How much time will these changes take to bring the derailed systems in Shimla back on rails? The time will tell. But it is true that much damage has already been done.