In a new twist to the infamous Shimla gangrape case, one of the co-accused, Suraj Singh, who was under police remand, was on Tuesday night found dead inside a Kotkhai police station lock-up.
He was allegedly killed by the main accused in the case, Rajender Singh alias Raju, following a scuffle on Tuesday night. The victim was identified as 29-year-old Suraj Singh, a Nepali national, who shared the cell with Rajender and Lokjan alias Chottu.
The incident took place around midnight. Police said the accused Raju caught Suraj from his private part and hit him on the floor. There was a scuffle between Raju and Suraj on Tuesday night. The guard on duty heard noises and rushed to the spot and found Suraj Singh in an unconscious state inside his cell..
The entire staff of the Kotkhai thana, including the SHO, has been suspended following this death in custody. Sources say the SHO had kept all the six accused in two cells instead of keeping them in separate cells.
Additional police force has been rushed to Kotkhai to tackle the law and order situation as it is feared that the incident would add fuel to the public rage over the rape incident. IG Southern range ZH Zaidi said Suraj had allegedly narrated the entire sequence leading to the rape incident and named Raju, the driver of the pickup, as the main accused.
A Class X student was raped and murdered at the Kotkhai area of Shimla district on July 4 after she took a lift in a vehicle driven by one of the accused, Rajender.
The body of the victim was recovered from the nearby Halila forest two days later. Six persons were arrested in connection with the case.
On July 13, police had claimed a breakthrough in the rape and murder of a minor school girl whose naked body was found in isolated woods in Kotkhai tehsil’s Halaila village. The six accused were identified as Ashish Chauhan (29), Rajinder Singh (32) of Sharaal village, Subash Singh Bisht (42) of Pauri Garhwal, Surat Singh (29) of Nepal, Lok Jan (19) of Nepal and Deepak (38) of Garhwal. They were produced before a court in Theog and sent to seven-day police remand.
Meanwhile, protests continued to rock upper Himachal on Wednesday with protesters stooping traffic at various places on the way to Kotkhai. The locals, joined by political activists and social bodies, have been accusing the police of a cover up to save a few well-connected individuals. The state government had ordered the case to be transferred to the CBI, which is yet to take over the investigation.