The CBI has arrested eight policemen, including Inspector General of Police Zahur H. Zaidi for custodial death of an accused in the case of a schoolgirl’s gang-rape and murder. Apart from the IGP, the arrested persons include DSP Manoj Joshi, SHO Rajinder Singh, ASI Deep Chand, Head Constables Surat Singh, Mohan Lal and Rafiq Ali and Constable Ranjit Streta. These policemen were arrested by CBI and will remain in custody till September 4 as per the order of Special CBI court in Shimla.
The 14-year-old schoolgirl in the immediate case was offered lift in a vehicle belonging to Rajinder Singh when she was returning to home from school. En route, the accused and accomplices gang-raped and murdered her. Her body was dumped in a forest and was recovered two days later.
The accused were believed to be intoxicated at the time of crime. The case took an interesting turn when the accused Suraj Singh was mysteriously killed by Rajinder Singh inside the jail premises.
The crime had ensued massive protests across the state of Himachal Pradesh to bring justice to the victim. The victim’s family claimed that the real culprits belonged to high profile families and had gotten away. Consequently, on State Government’s plea, the Himachal Pradesh High Court ordered a CBI probe.
The HC granted another two weeks to CBI court to hasten the proceedings and complete the probe. The CBI also filed a separate FIR for the custodial death of accused Suraj Singh.
Death of under-trials in policy custody are rampant in India. Custodial deaths have become a major human rights debate given the irony involved in the crime. The victims are helplessly tortured and killed by the custodians without any recourse. Even the families of such under-trials stay unaware of the cause of death and end up without any answers. The NHRC has also reported that majority of custodial crimes go unreported due to the fear instilled by the custodians in the victim and their families.
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