Shops, offices and schools are closed in Shimla today in protest against the gang-rape and murder of a teen girl earlier this month and the alleged mishandling of her case, which has incited frequent protests in recent days against the police and government of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh of the Congress.
Yesterday, the main suspect, a man named Rajendra Singh, allegedly killed one of the five men arrested with him over a week after the Class 10 schoolgirl's naked body was found in a forest. A furious mob of nearly 2,000 people burnt vehicles and attacked officers at the police station where the suspects are being kept in a makeshift cell. The crowd accused the police of new lapses and refused to let injured policemen be moved to hospital. Today, the opposition BJP has called a complete shutdown or bandh in Shimla.
The Himachal Pradesh High Court has asked the CBI to form a special team to handle the case, which means it would no longer be handled by the local police.
Three senior police officers have been transferred after yesterday's killing the prisoner, Suraj Singh of Nepal, whose head was smashed repeatedly against the floor. Among the officers punished is Inspector General Zahur H Zaidi, who had been named head of a special police team investigating the murder of the 16-year-old girl. Governor Acharya Devvrat yesterday asked for a report from the government on yesterday's killing of a suspect.
She was reported missing on July 4 and was found two days later. Her older sister says that the men who have been arrested are not the real culprits. "Earlier, we were told that the accused belonged to high-profile families and they were on the run," the girl's elder sister told reporters in Kotkhai town. "Our protests will continue till the real culprits are apprehended," she added.
The police says the victim was sexually assaulted and murdered in an apple orchard and her body was then abandoned in the woods nearby in Kotkhai, about 55 kilometres from Shimla.
Investigators say that Rajendra Singh offered her a lift while she was walking home from school. She was then abducted.
Unnamed police officials told news agency IANS that Rajendra Singh killed his co-accused because the labourer from Nepal was trying to pin the blame entirely on him.