The CBI on Tuesday, August 29, arrested Himachal Pradesh Inspector General (IG) of Police (Southern Range) Zahur H. Zaidi, a deputy Superintendent of Police and six other policemen in connection with the custodial death of a gang-rape and murder accused in Shimla in July, said a report by The Hindu.
All of them were a part of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) set to probe the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl in July – in connection with the custodial death of an accused in the case. Zaidi, a 1994-batch IPS officer, was the IGP (South Range, Shimla) at the time of the incident.
Others arrested in the case are the then Deputy SP Manoj Joshi, Station House Office of Kotkhai Police Station, Rajinder Singh, Assistant Sub Inspector Deep Chand; Head Constables Surat Singh, Mohan Lal, Rafiq Ali and constable Ranjit Streta. They were produced before a Shimla court which sent them to CBI custody till September 4.
This case dates back to the night of July 18, when Suraj Singh a labourer from Nepal was among those arrested for rape-murder, died in police custody. The police claimed that he was killed by the main accused, Rajinder Singh, at the Kotkhai Police Station. Singh was a suspect in the rape and murder of a minor school girl in the Kotkhai area of Shimla.
The standard 10th student had gone missing on July 4 and her naked body was discovered from Haliala forest in Kotkhai region. He was among six others arrested by the police. This triggered a massive outrage and protesters burnt down the police station, next day.
According to a report by The Indian Express, CBI sources said the forensic evidence, post-mortem report and statement of the night guard at the Kotkhai police station contradicted claims by the police that Suraj Singh was killed in a brawl in his cell. Dinesh Kumar, 23, the night guard is the primary witness for CBI. He has been provided police protection.
In his statement to the police, Dinesh Kumar said that Suraj Singh was not in his cell at the time of his death. Reportedly, he was taken for interrogation and was brought back in a critical condition. He was taken to the local government hospital, where he was declared dead.
What followed next was the transfer of Mr Zaidi and two other senior police officers.
Mamta, Suraj’s wife has alleged that her husband has been falsely accused of the rape and murder case. She also added that Rajinder, who was like a brother to Suraj would have never killed him.
The CBI probe was ordered by the high court on July 19 following widespread protests over the incident. Two separate FIRs were lodged in the case, one on the rape-murder of the minor girl and another one on the custodial death. The High Court is monitoring the case and has asked the CBI to submit its status report on September 6.
Sections 302 (murder) and 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code, besides Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act have been invoked in the case.