Hoshiar Singh row: Court orders CBI probe as it finds police investigation unconvincing
Mandi: The probe into the mysterious death of forest guard Hoshiar Singh in Seri-Katanda beat of the Karsog division, Mandi district was complete for the Himachal Pradesh Police and the State Crime Investigation Department (CID). However, the police has failed to convince the State High Court that a fair probe was conducted and it was indeed a case of suicide.
A division bench comprising of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma has eventually ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to unearth the truth.
If the police probe was found fraudulent, more police officials would be joining ex-Inspector General of Police, Zahur H Zaidi, and seven other police officials, who were arrested by CBI on August 29 over the alleged custodial killing of Suraj Singh – one of the accused in the Kotkhai rape and murder case.
The court had taken suo motu cognizance of the case on June 20 after public outrage in Karsog region that was spreading to other parts of the state. People have even formed a dedicated platform, Siraj Manch, under which several protest rallies were organized. The Manch and the relatives of late Hoshiar Singh had been demanding a CBI probe as they did not trust the local police and the government.
The CID and police had been investigating the case for over 100 days since the discovery of the body of the deceased guard on June 10, 2017. The guard was missing since June 5.
It is pertinent to mention that CID and police claim to have completed the probe in which it was established that Hoshiar had committed suicide as an insecticide containing Chlorpyrifos and Cypermethrin was found in his body.
Six people including forest officials were arrested based on the information extracted from two pieces of paper and a diary. As per police, these papers were suicide notes. In these notes, Hoshiar had made stunning revelation regarding a strong nexus of the forest department with forest mafia.
The forensics confirmed that the handwriting matched with that of Hoshiar.
Four more people of the same family were arrested in August based on the videos and photographs recovered from Hoshiar’s mobile phone.
However, the amicus curiae appointed by the state High Court raised several questions and pointed out serious loopholes in the probe. The probe did not explain why the body was hanging upside down from a tree in a half-naked condition and whether the poison was self-administered or Hoshiyar was forced to consume it.
However, without investigating the facts related to administration of poison, police had told the court that it was a case of suicide.
The amicus had questioned the police that the guard had reportedly consumed rice, cereals, and salad at the house of a TGT teacher on July 5. As per postmortem report issued on July 10, these components were found undigested on the day of postmortem. Normally, the human body takes five to six hours in order to digest a meal.
Hence, the probe could not establish the accurate day and time of the death of the deceased, which is very crucial to the investigation, had said the Amicus.
The court had asked the police to convince it why the case should not be given to CBI for a probe. The agency was given ample time, but it failed to convince the court as several questions were still unanswered.
At the same time, the state forest department is also under the scanner for its inaction despite discovering evident proofs of illegal felling of the trees in the Karsog division. The department had conducted an internal inquiry and recovered hundreds of stumps and wood of illegally felled trees.
Questions were raised in court as to why the department did not make any progress in internal inquiry despite solid evidences against its officials.
The state government is allegedly evading action against the officials of the department for the fear that the allegations labeled by people and the oppositions will be proved right in that case. The polls for the state legislative assembly are hardly two months away and the state government is already facing public wrath in the Kotkhai rape and murder case.
The state government has been maintaining that the state police and CID are capable of conducting a fair probe in the case. However, the transfer of the case to the CBI had come as huge blow to the credibility of the state law enforcement agencies.
People are now hopeful that Hoshiar will now get justice.