Himachal gang-rape, murder: Top officer transferred

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Shimla, July 20 (IANS) A top Himachal Pradesh police officer, heading the SIT probing the gang-rape and murder of a schoolgirl, was transferred hours after one of the suspects was found murdered in a lock-up, an official said on Thursday.

Inspector General Zahur H. Zaidi, besides, two other senior district police officers, were transferred late on Wednesday evening.

The other two were Shimla Superintendent of Police D.W. Negi, who was known for his proximity to Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, and his deputy Bhajan Dev Negi.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party called a day-long protest in the state capital over the deteriorating law and order situation, which began on Thursday morning.

All shops, private business establishments were closed in Shimla and other prominent towns in the district.

Movement of vehicular traffic was hampered at various points in the state capital.

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Zaidi changed places with Ajay Kumar Yadav and D.W. Negi with Soumya Sambasivan, an official notification said.

Official sources told IANS that the decision to replace Zaidi and others was taken on Wednesday night after the Chief Secretary cancelled his three-day tour of Mandi district and reached Shimla following the murder of the suspect and the violence across Shimla district.

Another prisoner, Rajinder Singh killed prime accused in the case Suraj Singh, a 29-year-old Nepali, by smashing his head on the floor, a police officer here told IANS.

He said what caused Rajinder Singh to kill Suraj Singh is yet to be ascertained.

The cause for altercation was believed to be revelations to the police by Suraj Singh, who put the entire blame for the gang-rape and killing of the girl on Rajinder Singh, another official told IANS.

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The murder of Suraj Singh led to arson attack by mobs, who were demanding justice for the 16-year-old victim, whose body was found in the forests in Kotkhai town in Shimla district on July 6.

The mob ransacked the police station in Kotkhai, some 56 km from the state capital, and did not allow the critically injured policemen to be taken to hospital for treatment. It also burnt three police vehicles.

Police fired two rounds into the air and resorted to baton-charge to disperse the crowd.

Massive protests continued in Shimla district since the rape and murder of the schoolgirl.

Last week, the state government agreed to recommend a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the case. But the investigating agency was yet to take over the case.

Expressing concern over the murder of the rape suspect in the lock-up, Governor Acharya Devvrat on Wednesday asked a report on the episode from the government.

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Director General of Police Somesh Goyal, who was summoned by the Governor, apprised him about the developments in the case.

In another development, the state high court, which has taken cognizance of the rape and murder, on Wednesday directed the CBI to constitute within two days a three-member SIT, headed by a Superintendent of Police-level officer, to probe the case.

The court order came on a plea of the state government, urging it to direct the CBI to take over the investigation.

It also directed the Chief Secretary to independently investigate the matter and take action against erring officials. The Chief Secretary has been directed to file a compliance report within two weeks.



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