The police have arrested six youths for the rape and murder of a minor at Kotkhai even as the autopsy report confirmed that the victim was strangulated after being sexually assaulted.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by IG southern range Zahur Zaidi, interrogated the six accused in this case. On Thursday, police arrested Ashish Chauhan, 29, a resident of Sharaal village in Kotkhai tehsil, and an engineering student in Bengaluru. Later in the day, police nabbed five others — Rajinder Singh (32) of the Sharaal village, Subash Singh Bisht (42) of Pauri Garhwal, Surat Singh (29) of Nepal, Lok Jan (19) of Nepal and Deepak (38) of Garhwal. Subash Singh Bisht is a priest in a temple at Pauri Garhwal.
Addressing the media, Himachal Pradesh director general of police (DGP) Somesh Goyal said, “We had technical, circumstantial and scientific evidences against all the six arrested.” The arrest comes almost nine days after the incident that sparked widespread outrage and protests in the town.
He said: “The SIT is painstakingly collecting more evidence to link the criminals to the rape and murder of the minor girl, which shook the otherwise peaceful state, and added: “Rajinder Singh, who worked as a manager with local orchardist was familiar to the girl and offered her lift in the pick-up vehicle, where four others were already present. All five persons in the vehicle were in an inebriated condition. After the vehicle moved a few kilometers, they committed the heinous crime.”
He also appealed to the people to desist from circulating unverified reports and photographs related to the case on social media. He warned that such posts will attract civil and criminal liability.
IG southern range Zahur Zaidi said, “The accused will be produced before the court on Thursday to seek police remand to join the dots in this puzzle.”
Meanwhile, the autopsy report submitted by the Indira Gandhi Medical College hospital to the police confirmed that the 16-year-old victim had died of asphyxiation. The report found strangulation marks on her neck. It revealed that the girl struggled hard to free herself from the clutches of the youths who are said to have sexually assaulted her. “The body had lesion and scratches on the back,” said the report while denying that any of her bones had been broken as claimed by some media reports. The report states that the victim was probably dragged on a rough surface after being strangulated. The body, which was found on July 6, was infested with maggots.
The victim was allegedly took lift in the vehicle being driven by Raju while she was on her way home after school. One of the assailants had reportedly called up the girl, a Class X student, on his mobile after the school and then waylaid her along with his friends. The case came to light when the girl, who had gone to school with her brother, didn’t return home and her parents begin to search for her. It was on July 6 that someone spotted the naked body in the nearby Dandi forest, about 100 metres above a link road. The girl’s body was also found near the spot.
The incident had led to widespread protests in the city. Social outfits, public representatives and student bodies had rallied on the streets, demanding justice for the victim. Serving an ultimatum to the police, students of the Shimla district had given them five days to solve the case.
This had prompted the government to constitute a special investigation team, headed by Inspector General, South range, Zahur Zaidi. A case has been registered under IPC Section 302, 376, and POSCO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offense) Act against unknown accused, and three special teams have been formed to investigate the crime.
On Tuesday, chief minister Virbhadra Singh had directed director general of police Somesh Goyal to nab the culprits at the earliest. He also announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh to anyone providing any information about the culprits.
The social media in the state was abuzz with photographs of six youth who were labeled as the culprits. Their photographs were widely shared on WhatsApp and Facebook and many congratulated the police for having “cracked” the case. Even chief minister’s official Facebook page shared the photographs but later deleted the post. But people whose photographs were being circulated on the social media were not found the same as those nabbed.