Pratibha Chauhan and Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, July 19
Following alleged murder of a suspect lodged in jail by another co-accused in the Kotkhai rape-cum-murder case late on Tuesday night, a mob ransacked Kotkhai police station and subsequently set it on fire during a violent protest that started on Wednesday morning.
The main suspect, Rajender Singh (32), alias Raju (driver of a pick-up van), in the rape and murder of a minor, allegedly killed another suspect in the case, Suraj Singh (29), by smashing his head on the floor in Kotkhai jail late Tuesday night, according to jail authorities.
Raju, along with three other accused, was subsequently shifted to an undisclosed location by the police after the incident around midnight.
The body of Suraj, killed by Raju, has been sent to Indira Gandhi Medical College for post-mortem from Kotkhai.
Suraj, a Nepalese labourer, was one of the suspects in the case.
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Suraj had reportedly given the sequence of the crime to the police and blamed the pick-up van driver Raju for the entire incident, following which both had a fight late last night and Raju allegedly banged Suraj’s head on the floor, which proved fatal for him, the police said.
Suraj was immediately rushed to the hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead, they said.
The incident has put the police in a tight spot, who were already facing public wrath for the past one week for alleged tardy progress in the investigations.
Also, the murder of one of the accused in police custody by another accused has put a question mark on the functioning of the police, who have no explanation as to why both of them were kept in the same lock-up.
In Delhi, BJP MPs from Himachal Pradesh led by Union Health Minister JP Nadda met Home Minister Rajanth Singh to seek justice in the rape-cum-murder case.
Meanwhile, tension mounted at Kotkhai following the murder of the suspect. Angry mob forcibly entered into the police station and beat up the police personnel.
Video by Amit Kanwar
They ransacked the police station as the police staff posted there ran to save their lives.
The police have cordoned off the lock-up where the remaining four accused are lodged.
Mob goes on rampage
The mob set up ablaze a laptop, documents, uniforms and name plates of police personnel, besides the confiscated drugs like opium and liquor bottles inside the police station.
The agitated mob alleged that none of the confiscated material was sealed and it was lying in the open.
Three pick-up vehicles of police that are used to ferry personnel were set afire at Koku Nullah, 2 km from the police station, by a mob.
More police contingents were rushed to Kotkhai to bring the situation under control.
While struggling to control the situation, the police fired in the air to disperse the mob gathered outside the police station.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who is on a tour to Paddar in Mandi, said: “The Nepalese labourer was not the main accused.” The CM said: “The private parts of Suraj were hit by another accused also lodged in the same cell.”
Director General of Police Somesh Goyal and Shimla SP DW Negi appeared before the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
The court ordered the CBI to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by an SP-rank officer to take over the investigation in the case.
It asked the SIT constituted by the state police to hand over entire case record to the CBI team.
Himachal Governor Acharya Devvrat, too, has sought a report on the case-related developments from the government in two days.
Angry protests are also being held in Dhalli, Theog and Mashobra after the news of the death of the accused spread.
Meanwhile, a protest was also held at The Mall in Shimla, where CPM, a former mayor and Nagrik Sabha demanded resignation of the Chief Minister and sacking of DGP Somesh Goyal in connection with alleged mishandling and cover-up in the rape-cum-murder case.
However, the irate residents refused to buy the theory that the case was solved with the arrest of the six, forcing the Himachal Pradesh Government to order a CBI probe into the case.
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