Shaken by incidents of mob violence and protesters setting the Kotkhai police station on fire, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and leader of opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal on Thursday made separate appeals to the protesters to maintain peace and not cause any damage or harm to the public or private property.
The BJP called for a bandh on Thursday in Shimla district to protest against the police mishandling the gangrape and murder case of a class X student, and the subsequent death of one of the accused inside the Kotkhai police station.
Most shops in Kotkhai were closed while BJP workers led by Shimla MLA Suresh Bhardwaj gathered at several places to take out protest marches seeking justice for the victim.
“Our demand is dismissal of the Virbhadra Singh government and imposition of President’s rule in the state. The government has totally failed to protect lives and property of the citizens. The accused in the police lock-up was killed as part of design to destroy evidence before the CBI takes over the case which was ordered by High Court on Tuesday,” said Bhardwaj.
Meanwhile, Dhumal said: “I have asked the workers to maintain peace during the bandh. No damage should be caused or allowed to be caused to the public and private property. Patients going to the hospital and ambulances should be exempted.”
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has also issued a similar appeal this morning.
The bandh has evoked massive response in a majority of the towns in Shimla, including Kotkhai where the accused was kept in police lock-up.
On July 4, a 16-year-old school girl returning from school was abducted while she was on her way home. She was allegedly gangraped and murdered the same day. Her body was found dumped in the forest near Halaila village. The police arrested six persons in connection with the case but angry protests continued as many suspect the police of shielding the real suspects.
The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday ordered the CBI to take over the investigations in the next two days by setting up a SIT under a SP-rank officer to probe the gangrape and murder case and the custodial death.