Shimla school girl rape-murder: Five held, all from well-to-do families

Shimla: A Himachal Pradesh police special investigation team has detained a fifth suspect in the case of a schoolgirl’s gang rape and murder in which local anger has risen as a graphic picture of the brutality has emerged.

Details emerging after the arrests show that all five suspects were from well-to-do families who were in the apple growing business in Shimla district. After night-long questioning of some of the suspects, it has emerged that the girl was kidnapped on July 4 when she was returning home from school, driven away in a vehicle to a house where her arms and legs were broke and she was raped, a police source said. The post-mortem has confirmed rape, her death by strangulation and shown proof of broken limbs, deep injuries all over her face and body.

The rage surrounding the rape and murder has been such that thrice the police had to remove the suspects during interrogation on Tuesday as crowds gathered, seeking to avenge the girl’s death and demanding that the youths be handed over to them. The five are being questioned in an undisclosed location. According to police sources, the details emerging on the accused show that one of the five had a case registered under Scheduled Castes/Tribes Atrocities Act against him. Another youth is suspected to be a “drug addict”. A third suspect is believed to be an alcoholic and one of the youths is allegedly involved in drug trafficking, according to police sources.
The sources said they have been able to identify the house where the crime was committed and the vehicle in which the girl was driven away and later her body was thrown out into the Halaila forests.

The body was found on July 6. The girl’s family —her father is a farmer in Shimla district — lodged a police complaint after she did not return home from school on July 4.

The police have seized the cellphones of the suspects and their call details were being analysed to prove their presence at the scene of crime and where body was dumped. Inspector-General of Police (south) Zahur Zaidi, who heads the SIT probing the rape, said: “We had certain unquestionable leads on which a thorough job was being done with the help of locals who were highly supportive…. All we (the SIT) looking is prosecutable evidence.The case will be so strong that the guilty would get maximum punishment.”

Zaidi refused to identify the suspects who are aged between 21 and 29 years and said several loose ends remained because of the nature of the crime. he said the case, though different from the Nirbhaya rape and murder, was “equally barbaric”. On Wednesday, a silent protest was held in Shimla under the banner of the All Youth Federation Upper Shimla, seeking justice for the victim’s family. Protests were also held at Nahan (Sirmaur) and Janjeli ( Mandi).