CHANDIGARH: An accused in the Shimla rape case was murdered by the main accused inside a prison cell at Kotkhai police station in the Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. Following the incident, an irate mob ransacked the police station and set fire to it in protest.
Sources said the 29-year-old Suraj Singh (a Nepalese labourer) was murdered by the main suspect, the 32-year-old Rajinder Singh, late on Tuesday night. Rajinder reportedly smashed Suraj’s head on the floor of their cell.
Both the accused were lodged in the same cell. Soon after the incident on Tuesday night, Rajinder Singh and three other accused were shifted from the jail to an unknown location.
Sources alleged that Rajinder was angry at Suraj for spilling details of the incident to the police and blaming it entirely on Rajinder. Both had an argument late on Tuesday night during which Rajinder Singh allegedly banged Suraj’s head on the floor. Suraj died by the time an on-duty policeman could intervene, sources said.
He was taken to a hospital. However, doctors there said he was brought dead. His body was later sent to Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla for post-mortem. The police have sought a judicial probe into Suraj’s death. As the news spread, a mob entered the police station and ransacked it and set fire to it. Earlier, the police had fired in the air to disperse the mob that had gathered outside the police station.
More forces were rushed to Kotkhai to bring the situation under control. As the news of the incident spread, protests were held at other places in the district — Dhalli, Theog and Mashobra. Shops were shut down in Kotkhai and protesters blocked the highway connecting the town to Shimla. The Himachal Pradesh High Court has summoned the Director General of Police in this case.
Advocate General Sharwan Dogra assured the court the police were investigating the case and demanded the matter should be handed over to the CBI. Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who was in Mandi, cancelled his tour and rushed to Shimla to oversee the developments. He said: “ I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to order a CBI enquiry in the case.” The murder inside the station cell has put the police in a tight spot at a time when it was under public scrutiny for the lackadaisical approach to the investigation of the rape case.
The police had earlier said that the main accused Singh was acquainted with the victim, as he offered her lifts twice earlier. She was offered a lift by the accused on July 4 when she was returning home from school. The family of the girl alleged that the real culprits belong to high-profile families and the state government had made sure that they get away scot-free. The deceased’s elder sister said, “Our protests will continue till the real culprits are apprehended. Suddenly, the police arrested six persons, four of whom are labourers — two from Uttarakhand and two from Nepal.’’
She also questioned the delay in handing over the case to the CBI. “We were told that the case has been handed over to the CBI. But till now no CBI official has come and nor any investigation has been started,” she said. A delegation of MPs, led by union health minister JP Nadda met union home minister Rajnath Singh and requested him to direct the state government to maintain law and order.