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Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh under fire after IG Zaidi’s arrest in Kotkhai rape case

The saffron party, which has 29 seats in the 68-member house, is making a concerted bid to regain power in the hill state.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2017 16:21 IST
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Himachal CM,Virbhadra Singh,Kotkhai rape case
Both the right-wing and left-wing parties attacked Virbhadra for indulging in corruption and shielding anti-social elements(Livemint file photo)

The arrest of Inspector General of Police Zahur Zaidi and seven other policemen for the custodial death of a man accused of being involved in the rape and murder of a schoolgirl in Kotkhai has stirred a political storm in the poll-bound state with opposition parties hitting government gunning for Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

A day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested the cops for the custodial death of Suraj, political parties in the hill state charged chief minister Virbhadra Singh, himself an accused in a disproportionate assets case, and his government with shielding anti-social elements.

Both the right-wing and left-wing parties attacked Virbhadra for indulging in corruption and shielding anti-social elements. State BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti urged the Centre to sack the Virbhadra government. “We have been suspicious about the shoddy probe. The CBI has shown how the government bent backwards to shield the real culprit,” said Satti.

He reminded that the chief minister holds the home portfolio and should take responsibility for the botched-up investigation. The BJP has been running a statewide ‘Mafia hatao, pradesh bachao’ (Oust mafia, save Himachal) campaign against the ruling party for the last three months now. The party has staged more than 100 rallies at the district as well as block headquarters accusing the CM of patronising criminals.

The saffron party, which has 29 seats in the 68-member house, is making a concerted bid to regain power in the hill state. The six-time CM Virbhadra Singh, meanwhile, is embroiled in a disproportionate assets case besides facing factionalism within his own party.

Sources say he is now putting pressure on the Congress high command to give him a free hand in the assembly polls. He is also demanding the removal of Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, considered close to AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi ahead of assembly polls. Singh, insiders say, has told the high command that it was difficult to lead the party under ‘present circumstances’.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) has accused the ruling party of sheltering criminals involved in this crime. Former MLA and CPM leader Rakesh Singha alleged that anti-social elements have penetrated the political hierarchy in the state. He also blamed the government for the shoddy probe into the Gudiya rape case. “The arrest of such a senior police officer demonstrates that those responsible for protecting the Constitution committed a crime,” he said. “Organs of the state -- civil as well as police administration -- are being politicised and protection is being given to anti-social elements,” he said.

“The CM has time and again commended the role of cops posted in the Kotkhai police station,” he said. “Such a statement is only given under two circumstances, either he is immature or guilty,” Singha alleged, adding, “It seems the CM is trying to cover up his guilt, that is why he posted the pictures of some youth on his FB account.”

Meanwhile, the Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) staged a protest outside the police headquarters in Shimla today. Left unions have been asking the government to sack the Director General of Police (DGP).

The botched-up police probe led to CBI investigations into the Kotkhai rape case.

First Published: Aug 30, 2017 16:19 IST