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Shimla Gangrape: HP CM Briefs Governor After Cop Heading SIT Moved

People of Shimla have taken to the streets to demand justice for their ‘Gudia’, as the victim has been nicknamed.

Updated
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5 min read
School children also protested the gangrape and murder of the 16-year-old from Kotkhai.
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Snapshot
  • A 16-year-old girl, posthumously nicknamed ‘Gudia’, was raped and murdered on 4 July in Kotkhai
  • Police found her body in Halaila forest on 6 July after her parents reported her missing
  • State Police arrested 6 men in connection with the case on 13 July
  • Protests erupted in the state demanding CBI to take over the case due to “irregularities” in investigation
  • Virbhadra Singh government hands over case to CBI
  • Prime accused in the case killed by another accused
  • Top cops associated in Kotkhai gangrape investigation transferred

The wife of one of the accused who was killed in police custody told the Indian Express, “When I went to see him at the police station, he told me about the torture, the merciless beating and atrocities by drunken policemen,” Mamta said.

Moments later, a police team with the Shimla SP and deputy commissioner Rohan Chand Thakur picked the wife up from the house and drove off.

She is in our custody. We have decided to give her protection.
Soumya Sambavisan, Shimla SP
Protests continue strong in Shimla on Saturday.
Protests continue strong in Shimla on Saturday.
(Photo: ANI)
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Shimla Gangrape: HP CM Briefs Governor After Cop Heading SIT Moved
(Photo: ANI)

A day after Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat asked the state government to give a detailed report on the status of the probe in the Kotkhai rape and murder case, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh called on him at the Raj Bhawan, on Thursday.

During the half-an-hour meeting, Singh apprised the governor of the steps being taken by the government, according to officials.

The governor asked the chief minister to ensure transparent and time bound action in this case, especially keeping in view the public outrage.

Singh assured the Governor that appropriate action would be taken and no person involved in the heinous crime would be spared, the officials said. He further added the state government was very serious and committed to take the probe to the logical conclusion and get the guilty punished.

Citing the transfer police officer Zahur H Zaidi, Singh asserted that action had already been taken against the police personnel for lapses and the concerned senior officers had been shifted.

Top Officials Handling Gang-Rape Probe Moved

Top Himachal Pradesh Police officer Zahur H Zaidi, who headed the SIT probing the gangrape and murder of a schoolgirl, was transferred hours after one of the suspects was found murdered in a lock-up.

Shimla Superintendent of Police DW Negi, who was known for his proximity to Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, and his deputy Bhajan Dev Negi were also transferred on Wednesday.

The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party called a day-long protest in the state capital over the deteriorating law and order situation, which began on Thursday morning. While all shops, private business establishments were closed in Shimla, vehicular movement was also hampered.

The 16-year-old girl – posthumously nicknamed ‘Gudia’ – was found dead on 6 July, in Halaila forests in Kotkhai, two days after she went missing on her way home from school. Postmortem reports confirmed that she was raped and strangled.
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Kotkhai Rape Case Handed Over to CBI

The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Wednesday handed over the investigation into the Kotkhai gangrape and murder case and also the custodial death of one of the accused to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

A division bench of the High Court consisting of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma directed the CBI to constitute a three-member SIT, headed by an officer not below the rank of SP, along with two DSPs, and start investigations.

The court also asked the state police to hand over the entire record of the case to the CBI and also took on record the affidavits filed by the Director General of Police (DGP) Somesh Goel, who was present at the court.

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Angry Mob Runs Amok After Accused’s “Custodial Death”

An angry mob went on the rampage, ransacking a police station and pelting policemen with stones after a Nepalese labourer, held in connection with the case was allegedly killed in the lock-up by another accused, officials said.

Nepalese labourer Suraj Singh, one of the accused, was found dead in his jail cell.

According to reports, Singh, was allegedly killed by the main accused, Rajender Singh, following a scuffle on the night of 18 July in his jail cell at Kotkhai police station. A crowd pelted stones and protested outside the police station following Suraj’s death.

Shimla Seeks Justice For Gudia

People of Shimla took to the streets to demand justice for ‘Gudia’. An angry mob threatened to sit on an indefinite strike. In Theog, thousands of protesters gathered, ransacking police vehicles and engaging in minor altercations with police, all to demand a CBI probe into the case.

On 14 July, 80-100 hundred women from Kotkhai gathered and sat on the Hindustan-Tibet National Highway, blocking the path for hours from 9:30 am, demanding a CBI probe into Gudia’s case.

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Why Does the Public Want the CBI Involved?

Women protesting at Kotkhai.
Women protesting at Kotkhai.
(Photo: Bhanu Joshi)

The Special Investigating Team from the state, which was earlier probing the case, arrested six suspects on 13 July, including two people from Nepal. While police said that initial investigation indicated that the attack was not “pre-planned” attack, they asserted that all the six accused were drunk.

The vehicle carrying the accused to Shimla for medical examination was reportedly attacked by some people, while a large number of people gathered at the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, where the accused were to be taken.

We have technical, forensic, physical, circumstantial and confessional evidence against these accused and the SIT is in the process of collecting more evidence to strengthen the case.
Somesh Goyal, DGP, Himachal Pradesh

However, people belonging to the region alleged that there were lapses in the investigation and that police did not arrest the “real suspects who belonged to influential families”.

On 14 July, the Himachal Pradesh government gave in to public demand and announced that the case will be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

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Govt Gives In to Demands

Protesters at Theog in Shimla.
Protesters at Theog in Shimla.
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/@Papu Bundel)

An eyewitness told The Quint that after the government order announcing the handing over of the case to CBI, there were many whispers about how the “power of people to protest in democracy is important.”

Instances of rape and murder are unheard of in the belt. People were disturbed by the sheer intensity of the incident. It shook the conscience of the people and they wanted justice for the minor
Bhanu Joshi, Research Associate, Centre for Policy Research

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, following the widespread protests, decided to hand over the case to CBI “in view of the public sentiments and gravity of the crime”.

While he said that the protesters did not have any reason to agitate, he also alleged that if there is a “political hand in this, it will be dealt with sternly.”

(With PTI inputs)

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