The Special Investigation Team has detained one more suspect in the alleged rape and murder of a schoolgirl in Shimla, taking the total number of men detained in the case to five. The class X student was reported missing by her parents on July 4 after she did not return from school. Today’s detention comes amid protests and growing public anger as police investigation has not led to any major breakthrough in the case.
Inspector General of Police (South) Zahur Zaidi, who is heading the SIT, said, “We have certain unquestionable leads on which a thorough job was being done with help of locals. One more suspect was rounded up today. All we (SIT) are looking for is prosecutable evidence. The police will not do a patch-work in the case that has raised such a public outcry. Thus, the case will be so strong that guilty get maximum punishments under the law.”
The SIT picked up leads after sustained interrogation of the four youths who were detained earlier. They confirmed to the police that the girl was kidnapped while she was on her way back home from school on July 4. She was driven in a vehicle by the accused and allegedly raped her inside a house, and later brutally tortured her to death. Her body was dumped in the Haliala forests.
The police have been able to identify the house where the crime was committed and also the vehicle used to carry her body to the Halaila forests. Police have seized mobiles phones of the suspects and their call details were being analysed.
The postmortem report of the victim has already confirmed rape and her death by strangulation. The report also revealed about her broken legs and arms, and deep injuries all over her face and body. “This is slightly different from Delhi’s Nirbhaya case from the investigation point of view, though gravity-wise equally barbaric or even grave and brutal,” Zaidi said.
The incident has triggered so much anger in the area that the police was forced to take the suspects to an undisclosed location for interrogations. Police, however, said full security would be given to the suspects.
On Wednesday, a mass silent protest was held in Shimla under the banner of All Youth Federation Upper Shimla demanding justice for the victim’s family. “It’s such a crime in Devbhumi that guilty must be hanged. There is huge anger brewing up in Kotkhai, Rohu, Jubbal, Kotgarh, Chopal, Rampur, Balson, Deha and Chopal. Everyone has just one voice – hang the culprits whoever they are,” said Pawan Khimta and Nitim Rathore who were part of the protests.
Protests were also held at Nahan (Sirmaur) and Janjeli (Mandi) over the failure of the police to arrest the culprits even after six days following the recovery of the body. BJP leader Dr Rajeev Bindal, who led the protest at Nahan, demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh for ‘failure of law and order situation’. He alleged the police was still groping in the dark for want of evidence. “Look at the plight of the victim’s parents. The students of her school have refused to go to classes seeking justice for the girl,” Bindal said.