Kotkhai rape-murder: Ten months on, CBI grapples for clues | india news | Hindustan Times
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Kotkhai rape-murder: Ten months on, CBI grapples for clues

With the recent arrest of one local lumberjack, the Central agency once again seems to have fasten it's probe in the Kotkhai rape and murder case that has been progressing at a sluggish pace.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2018 11:28 IST
Gaurav Bisht
After questioning more than 500 people  and drawing 150 blood samples, the probe agency has arrested a local lumberjack who is said to be hailing from Bharabhangal region of Kangra district, while his identity has been kept secret.
After questioning more than 500 people  and drawing 150 blood samples, the probe agency has arrested a local lumberjack who is said to be hailing from Bharabhangal region of Kangra district, while his identity has been kept secret. (Reuters Photo)

At a time whenthe Kathua and Unnao rape caseshave led to nationwide protests and outcry demanding justice to the victims and safety for the women in the country, the Kotkhai rape and murder case that shook the hill state ten months back and created a political furore is still struggling for a breakthrough.

Country’s premier investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), that recently claimed to havearrested one of the key suspect in the case is still grappling to gather more clues.

What led to the delay?

With the recent arrest of one local lumberjack, the Central agency once again seems to have fasten it's probe in the Kotkhai rape and murder case that has been progressing at a sluggish pace. CBI teams are now once again searching for more clues in the forest of Bankufur – just close to Hilaila village where the body of the minor girl was found on July 6, last year.

Timeline
  • July 4, 2017: Gudiya (name changed) goes missing in the Halaila area of Kotkhai
  • July 6: Her body found in Halaila forests
  • July 9: Police constitute SIT under IG (south) S Zahur Zaidi
  • July 13: Police claim breakthrough, arrests six
  • July 19: Suraj, one of the accused arrested by the SIT, dies in police custody
  • July 22: CBI takes over investigation
  • August 29: CBI arrests IG Zaidi, seven other cops in custodial death case
  • March 28, 2018: HC summons CBI director
  • April 14: CBI arrests ‘key suspect’ in rape and murder case

“Usually, thosecases are handed over to CBI in which the local agencies falter on the evidences.This happened in this case as well. Lots of evidences were either destroyed by the locals or by the cops. There were no hot trailsto follow so we have to link up the case gradually,” CBI spokesman Abhishek Dayal said.

CBI focused more on custodial death

However, when the probe was handed over toCBI it focused more on the custodial death of Suraj, one of the six arrestedin the case. A special investigation team (SIT) headed by then inspector general (IG) southern range S Zahur Zaidi was setup to probe the case.

On July 12, the SIT had arrested six men and announced the case has been solved. This led to a violent protest by locals saying the real culprits have not been arrested forcing the state government to order a CBI probe. However, before the CBI could start the investigation, an accused Suraj (a Nepalese) died in the police custody, triggering more violent protests.

On August 29, CBI arrested IG Zaidi and seven other cops in the custodial death case and in the same case then Shimla SP DW Negi was arrested on September 16. CBI had also submitted a charge sheet against all the accused in the custodial death case.

In December last year, the CBI had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for providing credible information about the accused.

What it has been done so far?

After questioningmore than 500 peopleand drawing150 blood samples, the probe agency has arrested a local lumberjack who is said to be hailing from Bharabhangal region of Kangra district, while his identity has been kept secret.

The Kangra man, which CBI claims is the key suspect in the case, was produced in the court and later shifted to CBI headquarters in Delhi. It is learnt that the probe agency has convinced the court that it has enough forensic evidence against the manwho was also present in the forest area at the time when the minor’s body was found .

Meanwhile, CBI has also collected the voice samples of all the arrested cops in the case. “CBI teams have now again started questioning locals and are searching in the forest where the body of the girl was found. We cannot reveal the identity of the person,” said a CBI official requesting anonymity.

Barring the arrest of cops in the custodial death case, CBI so far has not been able to make any headway.

People still not convinced with CBI

Meanwhile, a large section of peopleis still not convinced with CBI’s action. “ It seems that agency is still groping in the dark. The arrest does not seem to be very convincing. The agency should at least come out with truth now its been more thannine months,” said former Shimla mayor and CPI(M) leader Sanjay Chuauhan.