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Himachal Pradesh police special investigation team (SIT) arrested one person in the case of a class X school girl’s gangrape and murder in Shimla. Ashish Chauhan, 29, is the son of a well-to-do orchadists’ family. He was arrested after sustained interrogation of the five suspects who were taken into custody by the police in the past 48 hours. The information of the arrest was confirmed by the Director General of Police, Somesh Goyal.
“The SIT is painstakingly collecting more evidence to link the criminals to the rape and murder of a minor girl, which shook the otherwise peaceful state of Himachal Pradesh. More arrests are likely in the days to come,” Goyal said.
Chauhan, a resident of Sharaal village, has been booked under sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape) and section 4 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, at Kotkhai Police Station. He is also a drug addict and has been previously involved in some unreported cases of sexual crime, a member of SIT informed.
The girl was a student at Mahasu government school in Kotkhai, 58 kms from Shimla. She had been kidnapped on July 4, while returning from school. Two days later, police recovered her body from Halaila forests of Kotkhai. The post-mortem confirmed rape, death by strangulation and exhibited proof of broken limbs and deep injuries all over her face and body.
Inspector General of Police (South), Zahur Zaidi, said the accused will be produced before the competent court on Thursday to seek police remand and join the dots in this puzzle.
Meanwhile Goyal appealed to the people of the state to be patient and have faith in the SIT. He assured that all the culprits will be booked in a few days’ time. He also requested the people to desist from circulating unverified news and
photographs related to the case on social media as it made things more difficult for the police. Such posts can also attract civil and criminal liability, he said.
Police had to remove the suspects thrice during interrogation on Tuesday as a crowd of locals gathered, seeking to avenge the girl’s death and demanding that the youths be handed over to them. The five are being questioned in an undisclosed location. According to police sources, one suspect is believed to be an alcoholic and another one is allegedly involved in drug trafficking.
The police have seized the cellphones of the suspects and their call details were being analysed to prove their presence at the scene of crime and where the body was dumped. “We had certain unquestionable leads on which a thorough job was being done with the help of locals who were highly supportive. All we (the SIT) are looking for is evidence strong enough to prosecute the perpetrators.The case will be so strong that the guilty will get maximum punishment,” Zaidi said. He said the case, though different from the Nirbhaya rape and murder, was “equally barbaric”.
On Wednesday, a silent protest was held in Shimla under the banner of the All Youth Federation Upper Shimla, seeking justice for the victim’s family. Protests were also held at Nahan (Sirmaur) and Janjeli (Mandi).