Violence rocks Himachal after gang-rape, murder; suspect kills fellow accused
In a twist to the sensational gang-rape and murder of a schoolgirl in Himachal Pradesh, the prime suspect allegedly murdered a fellow accused in the case in the police lock-up on Wednesday, the police said.
This led to arson attack by mobs who were demanding justice for the 16-year-old victim, whose body was found in the forests in Kotkhai town in Shimla district on July 6. The opposition BJP called a state-wide protest on Thursday.
Prime accused in the gang-rape and murder of the young girl, Rajinder Singh, allegedly killed Suraj Singh, a 29-year-old Nepali, by smashing his head on the floor, a police official here told IANS.
He said what caused Rajinder Singh to kill Suraj Singh is yet to be ascertained.
"Both of them had a scuffle over some issue and Suraj got grievous head injuries. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead," the police official added.
The cause for altercation is believed to be revelations to the police by Suraj who put the entire blame for the gang-rape and killing of the girl on Rajinder.
As the incident in Kotkhai police lock-up, around 54 km from the state capital, came to light, a large number of locals gathered and forcibly entered the police station, assaulting police personnel for their lapses in the killing of one of the six accused in the lock-up.
The mob ransacked the police station and did not allow the critically injured policemen to be taken to hospital for treatment. It also burnt three police vehicles.
Police fired two rounds into the air and resorted to baton-charge to disperse the crowd.
Massive protests continued in Shimla district since the rape and murder of the schoolgirl.
Last week, the state government agreed to recommend a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the case. But the investigating agency is yet to take over the case.
Expressing concern over the murder of the rape suspect in the lock-up, Governor Acharya Devvrat asked a report on the episode from the government.
Director General of Police Somesh Goyal, who was summoned by the Governor, apprised him about the developments in the case.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was out of the state capital, cancelled his tour and rushed to Shimla to oversee the developments in the state, which is scheduled to go to the polls in November.
"The state government had earlier formed Special Investigation team and later I personally wrote a letter to the Prime Minister to get CBI inquiry conducted in this case," said a statement quoting the Chief Minister.
In another development, the government on Wednesday pleaded with the state high court, which has taken cognizance of the rape and murder of the girl, to order a CBI investigation into the case.
During the course of hearing, Advocate General Sharwan Dogra assured the court that the police were investigating the case but demanded the matter should be handed over to the CBI to get justice to the victim.
The girl's family has been expressing doubts and suspicions about the police investigation.
"Earlier, we were told that the accused belonged to high-profile families and they were on the run," the girl's eldest sister told reporters in Kotkhai town.
Suddenly, the police arrested six persons, four of whom were labourers -- two from Uttarakhand and two from Nepal, she said.
"We are demanding justice for our sister. Our protests will continue till the real culprits are apprehended," she added.
Police say the 16-year-old girl was offered a lift in a vehicle by the accused on July 4 when she was returning home from school. On the way, they raped and murdered her in a nearby forest. Her naked body with injury marks was found two days later.
The arrested persons are prime accused Rajinder Singh, who offered her the lift, Ashish Chauhan, Subhash Bisht, Deepak Kumar, Suraj Singh and Lokjan.
The police said that the prime accused Rajinder Singh had developed a familiarity with the girl as he had offered her lifts twice earlier.
The victim's father 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 no CBI official has so far started investigation in the case," he said.
Shimla's member of Parliament Virender Kashyap demanded imposition of President's rule in view of complete failure of law and order in the state.
A delegation of members of Parliament representing the state, led by Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi and requested him to direct the state to maintain law and order situation.