Shimla Bandh: Widespread protests derail life, high tension at State Secretariat
Shimla – Himachal Pradesh is witnessing, perhaps, one of the most aggressive and consistent movements against State government and its Police Department. The gruesome rape and murder of a Class X schoolgirl in Shimla’s Kotkhai region has shook the people. Further, allegation of botched up investigation by HP Police SIT and killing of one accused in police custody have invited wrath of public.
The call for Shimla band by opposition Bhartiya Janata Party was joined by common people, college students, even school-children in protests held at several places all over Shimla. The routine life has derailed as markets remained closed and private and public transport were obstructed by chakka jams at separate locations in Shimla town.
Public outrage reached the State Secretariat. BJP reportedly called for gherao of State Secretariat. BJP workers as well as other protesters were marching toward the Secretariat. Police has closed all entrances and the gates to prevent the mob entering the premises.
Protesters were marching toward the Secretariat from Sanjauli and Shimla Ridge. Heavy police force is deployed around the Secretariat in view of possible violence.
Reports also suggested some stone pelting and scuffle between protesters and police. However, no official confirmation has arrived regarding violence.
Similarly, protesters also marched toward the Rajbhawan (Governers’ House), students (ABVP) burnt effigies of the government at the CTO, Shimla, and blocked traffic a key locations in Shimla town like Boileauganj, Sanjuali, Victory Tunnel, Dhali etc.
Private as well as public transport were hit as enraged mob inflated tyres of buses and choked the traffic. Though, additional police forces were summoned in view of today’s call for band, the situation remained out of control.
The administration and the police appeared helpless. Police action, if any, is expected to worsen the situation like yesterday when locals ransacked the police station, thrashed police staff, and set the station on fire in Kotkhai after a Nepalese accused was killed by co-accused in police custody on Tuesday night.
The Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has appealed public to calm down and refrain from damaging public property. In view of yesterday’s rioting in Kotkhai, the State government had transferred several police officials including Superintendent of Police, Shimla, DW Negi and Inspector General of Police, Zahur H Zaidi, head of the SIT that probed the case.
Three police officials including the Station House Officer, Kotkhai Police Station, were suspended over dereliction of duties after the accused was killed in custody.
The State High Court, on the plea of State government, had yesterday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to form a Special Investigation Team comprising of at least three members under an SP rank officer. The CBI is expected to take charge of the investigation soon.
However, these announcements could not convince people. BJP and CPI (M) are also making full of the opportunity to fuel the chaos.