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Home / India News / Kotkhai schoolgirl raped and killed by woodcutter; he’s lone culprit: CBI

Kotkhai schoolgirl raped and killed by woodcutter; he’s lone culprit: CBI

Anil Kumar, who is under arrest, was identified as the killer on the basis of a DNA test.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2018 23:45 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Members of a college students union in Shimla protest the Kotkhai rape and murder on July 20, 2017.
Members of a college students union in Shimla protest the Kotkhai rape and murder on July 20, 2017.(Ravi Kumar/ HT Photo)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday alleged that a 25-year-old lumberjack identified by DNA testing raped and killed a 16-year-old girl in Kotkhai near Shimla last year, exonerating six people arrested by Himachal Pradesh police in the case. 

The rape and murder of the school girl led to widespread protests in Himachal and when one of the six suspects arrested by the state police – Suraj Kumar -- died in custody, allegedly after he was severely beaten, protests intensified and led to the case being transferred to the CBI in July last year. 

“Investigators spoke to more than 1,000 persons and formally recorded statements of around 400 among them. A 40-member CBI team camped in the area for weeks and collected blood samples of 250 people living in close-by areas. They included teachers of the girl, local hardened criminals, labourers and others seen in the area just before or after the crime,” said CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal. 

The Class 10 girl was found dead in the Halaila forest in Kotkhai on July 6, 2017, two days after she was reported missing while returning from school around 4pm. 

“After taking over the probe in the case, investigators subjected the five accused, arrested by state police, to various types of forensic examinations including the DNA, narco and lie-detector tests. Their DNA samples didn’t match with DNA samples lifted from the crime scene. Their digital footprints were mapped by looking at their mobile phone records. It showed they were not near the crime scene when the girl went missing and her dead body was found. The alibis proved correct. Then investigators set out to look for real culprit or culprits,” said a CBI official familiar with the probe. 

The probe was divided into two parts. One pertained to the custodial death of one of the six suspects arrested by state police and the second focused on the rape and murder of the girl. 

In the case of the custodial death of Suraj Singh, the agency charge-sheeted nine policemen including an officer of the rank of inspector general, charging them with murder, wrongful confinement to extort a confession and destroying evidence in November last year. 

In the case of rape and murder of the girl, CBI investigators used DNA testing to zero in on the suspect.

The first clue surfaced when a major percentage of the DNA profile of a person, who was among the 250 people asked for their blood samples, matched with a DNA profile lifted from the crime scene, said the CBI official cited above.

“His family members were spoken to and investigators found that one of the family members in Kangra district, Anil Kumar, who had a criminal history, was untraceable. Kumar was on the run since September 2016 after getting bail in an attempted murder case. DNA samples of his family, including parents and siblings, were collected and through lineage testing it was found that they matched with the DNA samples lifted from the crime scene. His family was put under technical and physical surveillance,” said the CBI official. 

In April, a call by Kumar to a relative was traced to a farm in the Roharu area near Shimla. The team spotted a labourer in the farm whose profile matched the one they were seeking. He was immediately arrested and brought to Delhi where tests confirmed his involvement in the crime; his DNA matched fully with samples picked from the crime scene and from the body and clothes of the girl, CBI officials said. 

CBI spokesperson Dayal said agency chief Alok Verma had been monitoring the progress of the case from day one. 

“The director expressed the satisfaction at the work done by the investigative team and forensic experts of the CFSL (Central Forensic Science Laboratory) of the CBI for solving a sensitive and difficult case,” said Dayal.