Shimla gang rape-murder case: CBI arrests top Himachal police officials over suspect's custodial death
The CBI on Tuesday arrested eight policemen, including an IPS officer, for the custodial death of an accused in the sensational gang rape and murder of a schoolgirl in Shimla district last month.
CHANDIGARH: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday arrested an Inspector General of Police (IGP), Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and six other officers of the Himachal Pradesh Police in connection with the custodial death of a suspect in the Kotkhai gang-rape and murder of a minor girl.
IGP south range Zahoor H Zaidi, who was heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) inquiring into the rape and murder of a minor girl, was arrested from Shimla, along with DSP Theog Manoj Joshi and six other policemen — then SHO of Kotkhai Police Station Rajinder Singh, ASI Deep Chand Sharma, head constables Surat Singh, Mohan Lal, Rafiq Ali and constable Ranjit Singh.
The custodial death took place on July 20 after the main accused in the gang-rape and murder, Rajinder Singh, is said to have smashed in the head of Suraj, a Nepalese labourer and accomplice, blaming him for spilling the beans about the crime and implicating him.
On July 4, a 16-year-old Class 10 student went missing while on her way back home from school. Two days later, police found her body from Halaila forests of Kotkhai. She had been raped and murdered.
Police said the accused had given her a lift, taken her to an isolated place, raped her and then choked her to death. A medical examination confirmed she had been raped and had died of asphyxiation. Injury marks on her body also indicated that she had been choked to death.
An SIT was formed by the state government after which six people were arrested. The accused were identified as Ashish Chauhan (29), the son of an apple-orchard owner, Rajinder Singh (32), Subhash Singh Bisht (42), Lok Jan (19), Suraj Singh (29) and Deepak (38).
ICP Zaidi had said that Suraj had narrated to the police the entire sequence leading to the rape and had named Rajinder Singh, the driver of the pickup van, as the main accused. Police said Rajinder had been acquainted with the victim, and that he had offered her lifts twice earlier.
The family of the rape victim, however, refused to buy the police’s version and said that the real culprits belonged to high-profile families, whom the state government had helped get away scot-free.
With the public supporting the family and refusing to accept that the police had arrested all the right people, the Himachal Pradesh government was forced to order a CBI probe on July 14.
Days after the case was shifted to CBI, Rajinder, who was lodged in the same cell as Suraj at Kotkhai Police Station, had a heated exchange with him over revealing the details of the crime to the police and naming him as entirely responsible for it. In his anger, Rajinder allegedly smashed Suraj’s head against the floor, killing him. Suraj died by the time an on-duty policeman could intervene.