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Friday, January 17, 2020

Kothkai custodial death case: Shimla ex-SP alleges attempt by accused to influence her

In 2017, Suraj Singh, a suspect in the rape and murder case of a minor girl, had died while in police custody.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh | Published: January 9, 2020 8:20:08 pm
Sambasivan, Zaidi, CBI, Punjab, Chandigarh, Rape Case, murder, Latest news, updates, Indian Express The special CBI court of Chandigarh Wednesday issued directions to the Himachal Pradesh DGP to take necessary action over a plea by Mandi’s IRB Commandant (File)

The special CBI court of Chandigarh Wednesday issued directions to the Himachal Pradesh DGP to take necessary action over a plea by Mandi’s IRB Commandant over an attempt to influence her in the Kotkhai custodial death case.
In the plea, IRB Commandant Soumya Sambasivan has alleged an attempt by accused IG Zahur Haider Zaidi to pressurise her to change her statement in the latter’s favour in the court.

On Wednesday, the Sambasivan, posted as Shimla SP in 2017, was present in Chandigarh CBI court to testify as prosecution witness in the custodial death case being heard in the court of Special CBI Judge Dr Sushil Kumar Garg. In 2017, Suraj Singh, a suspect in the rape and murder case of a minor girl, had died while in police custody.

While Commandant Sambasivan testified in the CBI court, she also submitted a written application against IG Himachal Pradesh, ZH Zaidi, alleging that the IG has been calling her repeatedly on phone, and asking her to give statements in his favour, in the Kotkhai custodial death case of Suraj Singh. In her complaint, Sambasivan also attached the call detail records of the phone calls received to her from IG, on her landline phone, mobile phone.

Sambasivan submitted that she has been repeatedly pressurised by Zaidi himself and by other influential people to give statements in favour of Zaidi in court. After accepting the application, the CBI court directed DGP, Himachal Pradesh, to take necessary action. The detailed order in the matter is yet to be released by the CBI court.

However, when denying the allegations of Sambasivan, Zaidi told The Indian Express that the allegations are baseless, and he never called Sambasivan to influence her.

During the proceedings Wednesday, Commandant Sambasivan stated that she joined as Shimla SP on July 20, 2017, in place of D W Negi (another accused in the case). “The situation was quite tense. The reason being the rape and murder of the girl and also custodial death in police station, Kotkhai…There were too many agitations all around the district in the form of protests by various groups in the district…There was pressure from SDPO, Theog namely Mr Manoj Joshi and Zaidi sir regarding the disposal of the body of Suraj, the person who died in custodial death.

Body was lying in the IGMC mortuary, Shimla…since I had taken only two days before so for clarification, I had to call CBI to find out whether it was right action or not. Whether I should give the body to the family of the deceased or not to which I got a response that I should not hand over the body, so I did not…”

Meanwhile, during Sambasivan’s cross examination conducted by Zaidi’s counsel on Wednesday, she was asked as to whether she filed any complaint in writing to any authority regarding the pressure alleged by you relating to the disposal of the body of Suraj. Sambasivan said that she had already informed the CBI regarding it.

Apart from Sambasivan, Parveen Kumar, a constable posted at Kotkhai Police Station from 2016-2019, stated that on the instructions of SHO Rajinder Singh, he had prepared/typed the dockets, sample for the DNA profile of accused arrested, including Suraj, and he never participated in the interrogation of accused persons.

The nine accused in the case include IGP Zaidi, SP D W Negi, DSP, Theog, Manoj Joshi, former Kotkhai 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. The case was transferred to the Chandigarh CBI court by the Supreme Court. The minor girl had gone missing after school hours on July 4. Her body was found in the forest on July 6 and the postmortem report confirmed rape.

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