BJP activists protesting the alleged mishandling of the Kotkhai schoolgirl rape and murder case on Thursday blocked several roads and gheraoed the state secretariat even as the shutdown called by the party affected normal life in the district. The party workers blocked roads in the Sanjauli and Victory tunnel areas and took out rallies in Theog and other parts of the district. The shutdown affected the supply of essentials such as bread, milk and vegetables. Most of the shops and other business establishments were closed.
Office-goers and schoolchildren had a hard time as their vehicles were stopped at several places, forcing them to go to their destinations on foot. Senior BJP leader Suresh Bhardwaj, who led the protesters, accused the police and the government of trying to protect “the real culprits”. He said the mysterious death of an accused in police custody in Kotkhai was a serious matter and “it appears that efforts are being made to destroy evidence”. Bhardwaj alleged that the law and order situation has crumbled in Himachal Pradesh and the BJP would submit a memorandum to the Governor demanding imposition of President’s rule in the state. The Nagrik Sabha, Shimla, also took out a protest march from the Deputy Commissioner’s office to Raj Bhawan. The protestors blocked the Hindustan-Tibet National Highway at Theog, 32 km from Shimla.
Police has been deployed in strength to avoid any untoward situation. A Class X student was raped and murdered at the Kotkhai area of Shimla district on July 4 after she took a lift in a vehicle driven by one of the accused Rajender. The body of the victim was recovered from the nearby Halila forest two days later. Six persons were arrested in connection with the case.