Himachal Pradesh: Kotkhai gang-rape and murder; Mob loses control after accused killed in custody

Kotkhai gang-rape and murder case took a drastic turn when one of the accused, Suraj Kumar was killed by another accused in the Police custody in the early hours of Wednesday.

Suraj Kumar, a Nepalese labourer, along with five others accused of the gang-rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl in Kotkhai, was lodged in the Kotkhai Police Station since last week. Sources reveal that the six accused were kept together in two cells instead of keeping them in separate cells. Suraj’s cell inmate allegedly banged his head against the wall leading to his death, after a heated argument out between the two. This has triggered violent clashes across Shimla. How can the accused be killed in Police custody? The angry mob set ablaze the Kotkhai police station, burnt down several Police vehicles and pelted stones which injured at least four police personnel including an Assistant Superintendent of Police.

Infuriated by the killing, the protestors blocked the Hatkoti-Theog and the Hindustan-Tibet highways as well, which left hundreds of people stranded for hours. Subsequently, additional Police force was deployed to kotkhai to bring the situation under control. On Thursday, Shimla observes a total bandh announced by BJP to protest against the gang-rape and murder of ‘Gudiya’. Prem Kumar Dhamal, leader of the opposition party in the state has been questioning the government’s competence stating that no action has been taken by the Congress government.

Dhamal said that the Police had apparently cracked the case and posted photographs of alleged culprits on the Facebook page of the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh. However, after a few minutes, these were deleted. This raises suspicion that there have been efforts to shield the real culprits, he said.

On the other hand, Veteran leader and former union minister Shanta Kumar said: “The law enforcing agencies failed to perform their duty in rape and murder of innocent girl. Instead of arresting the culprits, the police are threatening the protestors with strict action.” (As reported by Hindustan Times) “We are strongly for President’s rule in Himachal and the recent happenings are enough ground to dismiss the Congress rule,” he added.

BJP MP Anurag Thakur also took to the social media to condemn the HP government. He tweeted: 

Kundan Srivastava, a Human Rights activist and the founder of ‘The Voice Raiser’ said: “I am deeply saddened by this incident. More than that, over Himachal Pradesh Government’s silence. I urge the state government to take strict actions ASAP. I also request the people of Himachal Pradesh to help me connect with the victim’s family, so that I can help them in every way possible.”

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