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Protests were held for the third day in a row in Shimla on the rape and murder of a schoolgirl, a case in which the police is yet to make an arrest. The Class X student was reported missing by her parents on July 4 after she did not return home from school. Two days later, her naked body was found in the the Haliala forest, which falls on the way to her school.
On Friday and Saturday, protests were held mostly by students’ organisations but on Sunday political activists, NGOs and members of the Shimla Vyapar Mandal joined a candle light march to protest perceived police inaction. The march was called by the Press Club of Shimla. Himachal Pradesh Director-General of Police Somesh Goyal said there was no major breakthrough but the police were making serious effort to solve the case. “There are a few leads on which the police are working. We suspect the accused are local and were known to the girl. There could be more than one accused. Some phone call details are being monitored. The girl’s parents and locals were also supportive and extending help to the police,” he said.
Goyal said he would set up an SIT under Inspector-General of Police (Shimla) Zahur Zaidi to fast-track the investigation being done under the supervision of the Shimla SP. Former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal on Sunday expressed anguish over the incident and wondered how the police had not been able to get clues about the accused. He also demanded Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s resignation.
“There is a complete collapse of law and order. The police records show a three-fold increase in crime in the state,” Dhumal claimed. “Rape, murder, drug abuse and atrocities against women have become routine. The criminals and mafia, enjoying protection of the ruling party and police, are moving free. Innocent citizens and schoolchildren are living under fear,” he said. He said the Chief Minister should resign immediately as it has been proved that he can’t handle the state and was busy in the cases of his own.