In a major embarrassment to the government railway police (GRP), who tried to pass off Shivali's suicide as an "accidental death", the sole "eyewitness", Ram Tirath, claimed on Wednesday that he was made to sign a written statement which was fabricated to support the GRP's accident theory.
Tirath had gone missing after recording his statement on August 30, the day Shivali ended her life by allegedly jumping before a train. He had claimed in the presence of GRP officials that he managed to cross the rail track while Shivali was closely following him.
"Her (Shivali's) foot stuck in the rail track plate. She fell down and was hit by the train. She died on the spot as her skull and other body parts were damaged," Tirath had told the media.
Resurfacing on Wednesday, Tirath told the media that he was actually having drinks along the track when he saw people trying to cross it. Seeing the incoming train, all of them stopped, barring a girl, later identified as Shivali, who jumped before the train, he added.
About his statement given previously to GRP officials, Tirath alleged that he was forced to sign it.
Earlier, train driver Ram Pal had told the inquiry officer, inspector general of police (IGP), Jalandhar zone, Gurpreet Deo, that he saw Shivali jumping before the train.
HT had highlighted Tirath's "dubious and self-contradictory" statement in its report, "Gaping holes in GRP's 'accidental death' theory" (September 2).
On being grilled by the media, Tirath had given an unconvincing explanation about how he managed to observe Shivali behind his back. Tirath claimed that he fell down and got injured in the leg, but when asked to show the injury mark, he failed to reveal any fresh one. Facing a barrage of queries, he had left the spot in a huff.
Strangely, the GRP had also failed to register a case against Tirath for crossing the rail track, which is a punishable offence.
Later, the GRP claimed that Tirath was following Shivali, not the other way round.
"Tirath witnessed Shivali's accidental death after her leg got stuck on the track. He was yet to cross the track when the incident happened," station house officer (SHO) Baldev Singh had told HT on August 31. "It's a clear-cut case of accidental death. This is no suicide. How can we challenge the eyewitness' account?" he had said.
Despite repeated attempts, no GRP official could be contacted for comment on Wednesday.