The Himachal Pradesh Inspector General of Police Zahur Haider Zaidi is behind the bars in Chandigarh Burail Jail at present, facing a trial at Chandigarh CBI Court for the alleged custodial death of an accused in the gang rape and murder case of a minor girl at Kotkhai, Himachal Pradesh, in 2017.
Though he was bailed out by the Supreme Court in April 2019, Zaidi is now struggling to get bail after his plea was dismissed by the special CBI Court of Chandigarh in January this year.
Who Is Zahur Haider Zaidi?
ZH Zaidi, 51, is a 1994 batch Himachal Pradesh Cadre IPS officer. Graduated in Bachelor of Science, besides serving in Himachal Pradesh (HP), he has served as Director in the Jawaharlal Nehru Indian Culture Centre, Embassy of India, Jakarta, Indonesia, and also at Regional Passport Officer at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Zaidi has been felicitated withthe UN Medal, while serving as commander in the UN Peace Keeping Mission in Kosovo in 2005-2006.
In Himachal Pradesh, he has been the IGP Southern Range, and before being suspended in 2019, he was serving as the CEO of the Wakf Board of Himachal Pradesh.
Zaidi has also written a book titled “Cop at Large”, and has scripted and produced a documentary film titled, “Aap Aur Hum” aimed at spreading human rights awareness among school students. He has also co-authored a coffee table book on Himachal Pradesh Police titled “Himachal Pradesh Police- The Guardians of the Hills”.
In the Kotkhai custodial death case at Chandigarh CBI Court, Zaidi has been presented by his counsel. At this time of pandemic, Zaidi has been contending for his bail in person through video call hearings at the Chandigarh Court.
Suraj Singh, Accused of Minor Girl Rape and Murder, Died In Custody
On July 4, 2017, a minor girl had gone missing after school hours from Haliala forest at Kotkhai. Her naked body was found in the forest on July 6 and the post-mortem report had confirmed rape. A FIR was registered at Kotkhai PS, and an SIT was formed to probe the minor murder case headed by ZH Zaidi.
The SIT, on July 13, arrested accused Suraj Singh, along with four others for allegedly committing the crime. Meanwhile, on the night of July 18, one of the accused Suraj Singh died in custody after allegedly being tortured by the Himachal Police SIT.
SIT head IG Zaidi and eight other Policemen were booked, Case was Transferred to Chandigarh
On July 22, 2017, following the directions of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, the custodial death case was transferred to the CBI. The CBI booked nine policemen including Zaidi, and filed the chargesheet. However, in November 2018, the accused moved to the Supreme Court seeking transfer of the case from Shimla to any other state for the trial.
The CBI Prosecutor also submitted at the SC that the case “has not seen the light of the day” and hence, the case be transferred to a Delhi court for expeditious disposal, and moreover Zaidi, being the former IGP, may influence the witnesses in the case. The SC had thus granted bail to Zaidi, and transferred the custodial death case to Chandigarh CBI Court from Shimla, in May 2019.
Zaidi’s bail cancelled by CBI Chandigarh Court
In the ongoing trial at CBI Court, on January 8, a witness of CBI, SP-rank officer Soumya Sambasivan stated before the Trial Court that she was being pressurised by the accused in an attempt to influence the trial, and she said, she was also being pressurised by Zaidi to change her statement and to depose in his favour.
On January 20, the CBI thus moved an application at the CBI Court for cancelling the bail of Zaidi, and on January 24, the CBI Court cancelled the bail of Zaidi. Again in March, during the period of Covid-19 outbreak, Zaidi sought interim bail from the Chandigarh CBI Court and the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, however, both the Courts dismissed his plea, and further his regular bail plea at HC was dismissed again.
Seven other Policemen lodged in Chandigarh jail, SP Negi released on bail
At the Chandigarh CBI Court, a total 28 witnesses have been examined till date out of the total 107 witnesses. The other eight policemen, including Superintendent of Police DW Negi, DSP Theog Manoj Joshi, former Kotkhai Station House Officer (SHO) Rajinder Singh, ASI Deep Chand, who was investigating officer of the case, Head Constables Surat Singh, Mohan Lal and Rafee Mohammad, and Constable Ranjit Steta are facing the trial.
Among the accused, only SP DW Negi is out on bail at present, who was granted bail by the SC.
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