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Kotkhai Gudiya Case Verdict: Life Imprisonment to Convict, But Parents Say Real Culprits Still Roaming Free

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Kotkhai Gudiya rape and murder case judgement

ShimlaKotkhai’s Gudiya case has officially concluded for now as the lone accused of raping and murdering a schoolgirl was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 18. For the CBI and the court, justice is served, but not for Gudiya’s parents and several locals, who had already approached the Himachal Pradesh High Court with a plea to re-open the case.

On Friday, District and Session Judge, Shimla, Rajive Bharadwaj (also special judge CBI court) pronounced the sentence and imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 on the convict.

Earlier, on April 18, 2021, based on the investigation and evidence presented by CBI, the special CBI court had found Anil Kumar alias Neelu – a woodcutter- guilty of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl, who was returning home from school on July 4, 2017.

However, the parents of Gudiya expressed disappointment and said the CBI had washed its hands off but justice still has not been delivered. They maintained that this heinous crime was committed by more than one person. The parents said they would continue to fight a legal battle to get justice for their daughter.

The court found at least 12 out of 14 points of evidence given by the CBI against the accused. His DNA match with the sample taken from the crime spot was considered one of the most crucial pieces of evidence.

A total of 59 witnesses were produced by the CBI.

Neelu was convicted under Sections 376 (2) (i), 376 (A), and 302 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 4 of the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The court observed that the crime was committed in the spur of the moment. The convict came across the girl while she was on her way home from school through a path in the Haliailla forest of Kotkhai and committed the crime. 

Neelu, however, told media that he was innocent and was framed by the CBI. He labelled serious allegations against CBI including threats to his life. He told News 18 that  threats were given to him that he would be killed like Suraj, one of the accused killed in police custody on July 18, 2017. He even said that his mother was taken hostage in order to frame him. He said he would approach the higher courts to challenge this verdict. 

Known as the Kotkhai Gudiya rape and murder case, the case had created a stir for several reasons and led to widespread anger and protest. The biggest was the alleged botched-up investigation by a Special Investigative Team headed by Inspector General, Southern Range, Zaidi where six persons were falsely framed and one of them was killed in custody. The killed person was identified as Suraj – a Nepalese labourer. 

This led to violent protests and clashes of protestors with police. A police station in Kotkhai was set ablaze by a mob of locals. Under tremendous pressure, the case was handed over to the CBI in July. A team of CBI lodged two separate FIRs – one in the case relating to the rape and murder of the minor girl and the second in the custodial killing.

On August 29, CBI arrested IG Zaidi, DSP Manoj Joshi and six other police personnel for framing innocent persons and killing one of them in police custody. Another shocker came on November 16 when then Superintendent of Police, DW Negi, was also arrested over charges of filing fake cases in the custodial killing of Suraj.

The CBI told the court that the remaining five accused arrested by the SIT were innocent and were falsely framed and tortured.

The CBI team investigated for the next eleven months without any success. For this delay in investigation, the agency faced backlash from the state high court. Ultimately, disappointed with the CBI, the court questioned the competence of CBI and asked its Director to appear personally before it.

Immediately after this summons, CBI claimed to had cracked the case in which a woodcutter was arrested. The case was considered to be closed thereafter.

In the court, the investigation concluded successfully, however, parents and locals still express doubts that this CBI investigation was botched up. 

Another mystery that wasn’t investigated was that on the evening of July 11, pictures of four youths  were posted on then Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s official Facebook page with an update regarding the SIT probe. The update had said the police nabbed these four suspects  (shown in those pictures) in the Gudiya case. The post was however, deleted after a few minutes later and it was termed as a technical glitch. 

virbhadra-singh-kotkhai-gangrape-controversy2

File Screenshot of Deleted photos

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Video: Massive Landslide in Sirmaur Caught on Camera, NH 707 Closed for Traffic

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Sirmaur landslide nh 707

Sirmaur-Incessant rains have caused another massive landslide in the Sirmaur district on National Highway 707. A 100 to 150 meters stretch of Paonta Sahib – Shillai road near Kali Dhank, Badwas, caved in within a few minutes.

According to the initial information received, no loss of lives or damage to any vehicle was reported as a minor slide from the hill had alerted the people.

The landslide completely damaged several electricity poles, causing a blackout in some parts of the region.

The district police is re-directing all traffic from Paonta Sahib to Shillai to the Puruwala-Kilod-Jong-Kafota-Shillai route.

Further, all traffic movement towards Shimla from the region has also been re-directed.

The HP Meteorological Department has issued a yellow alert for the state till August 2th, while widespread rain has been predicted till August 4th. 

The Met has also issued an alert for flash-floods for Chamba, Mandi, Kullu, Shimla, and Solan districts.

It’s pertinent to mention that furious monsoon has already claimed over 200 lives and caused damages to property worth hundreds of crores in Himachal Pradesh.

During the last two days, as many as 21 people had died due to landslides and flash floods triggered by cloudbursts. Some of the persons who were swept away or buried were yet to be traced.

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Himachal: Cloudbursts, Landslides Claim 9 Lives in 48 Hours, 7 Still Missing, Met Issues Alert Till August 1st  

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monsoon damage in himachal pradesh 2021

Shimla-Monsoon continues to pummel Himachal Pradesh with deadly ferocity, leading to more cloudbursts, landslides, and flash floods. Several rivers and rivulets are in spate. Incessant rains could bring more destruction as the HP Meteorological Department has forecast widespread heavy rains till August 1st. While a red alert was issued for July 28, an orange alert has been issued for July 29 and July 30 and a yellow alert for July 31st and August 1st.

An advisory has been issued for locals and tourists to not venture near the river banks and avoid unnecessary travel as incessant rains could lead to more landslides, flash floods, and uprooting of trees.  However, tourists could be seen resolutely ignoring these warnings and partying near river banks and water bodies.

As devastation unfolds, the death toll due to monsoon induced calamities has reached nearly 200, while damages to property were assessed to be in hundreds of crores. Over 350 roads, including Manali-Leh, Pathankot-Chamba, and Shimla-Kalka, were blocked due to landslides.  Half a dozen bridges, as many as 30 houses and several vehicles were destroyed. Hundreds of tourists were reportedly struck in Lahaul.

lahaul-spiti cloudburst

After a flash flood in Dharamshala, a massive landslide in Shahpur constituency, and a horrid rockslide in Kinnaur district that killed nine tourists and injured four people, a cloudburst triggered a flash flood in Lahaul-Spiti district on Tuesday that washed away over a dozen of people, who were said to be labourers.  

cloudburst in lahaul-spiti

According to the Director of the State Disaster Management, Sudesh Kumar, at the time of writing this report, seven bodies had been recovered while four others were missing. The cloudburst occurred over Tonzin nallah in the Lahaul region of the tribal district. Rescue operations were in progress to trace missing persons.

A team of the National Disaster Response Force, which was on its way to Lahaul-Spiti through road, remained stuck in Mandi for several hours.  

On Wednesday morning, cloudburst was reported in Kullu district resulting in deluging of Bhramhaganga – a tributary of Parvati river. A  tourist, a 25-year-old mother along with her 4-year-old son, and a hydropower official came in its spate and were yet to be traced. Beas river was also in spate and people living in shanties on its bank were evacuated. 

Beas in spate

Rackham area in Kinnaur district also reported heavy losses due to a cloudburst on Wednesday morning.

While a rockslide killed one person in Chamba’s Saluni, a helper tagged with a JCB deployed for clearing Bharmaur-Pathankot National Highway was swept away by gushing waters of a nullah on Tuesday night. His body was recovered on Wednesday.

In Shimla, a landslide between Vikasnagar and Panthaghati crushed a vehicle and caused damaged to some others. Gumma khud in Chirgaon was also in spate and reportedly swept away a bridge and about four vehicles. 

landslide in shimla crushed car

Dharamsala received the highest 122 mm of rain, followed by Una 119 mm. In Solan district, Kasauli and Nalagarh also received over 105 mm rain. 

This widespread destruction has worried climatologists and environmentalists who are linking increased instances of landslides and cloudburst to environmental degradation and destabilization of hills due to developmental projects, including cutting of hills for widening of roads, construction of four lanes, hydropower projects etc. 

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Kinnaur: Massive Landslide Caught on Camera, Kills 9 Tourists, Injures 4, Destroys Bailey Bridge

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kinnaur landslide in batseri

Kinnaur: A massive landslide in Batseri on Sangla-Chitkul road in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday killed nine persons and injured at least four others. Huge boulders rolled down the mountain following the landslide and destroyed an iron Bailey bridge and many vehicles parked along the road within a few seconds.

A tourist vehicle, which was reportedly carrying about 11 tourists from Delhi NCR, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Chattisgarh, was hit by boulders near Gunsa, killing nine tourists. A couple of videos of this heart-wrenching incident went viral on social media. In the video, some people can be heard whistling and shouting to warn others.

“Nine people died, and three were injured after boulders rolled downhill due to a landslide in Kinnaur district. Batseri bridge collapsed in the incident. A rescue team is present at the spot,” Superintendent of Police (SP), Kinnaur, Saju Ram Rana said.

The intensity with which boulders hit could be assessed from the fact that the iron bailey bridge on the Baspa river collapsed instantly. 

Video of landlside in himachal pradesh

On receiving the information, teams of district police and Indo-Tibetan Border Police rushed to the spot and initiated a rescue operation. The district administration was also assessing the situation. As per reports, rocks sliding down from the hilltop made the rescue operation difficult for the teams.

sangla valley landslide

As per initial reports, a request was made to make a helicopter available to aid rescue work, which was yet to be fulfilled.

landslide in himachal pradesh

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur also expressed grief over the incident. An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh was announced for the deceased while injured would be given Rs. 50 thousand.

The exact cause behind the landslide was yet to be ascertained.

The deceased were identified as:

  1. Pratiksha Sunil Patil (27) from Sadhbhawna Nagar, Nagpur, Maharashtra
  2. Deepa Sharma (34) from Jaipur
  3. Amoghi Bapat (27) from Korba Darri in Chhatisgarh
  4. Umrab Singh (42) of Tagore Garden West Delhi
  5. Kumar Ulhas vedpathak (37)
  6. Anurag Biyani (31) from Sikar in Rajasthan, his mother Maya Devi Biyani (55) and his sister Richa Biyani (25)
  7. Satish Katakbar (34) from Chhatisgarh.

Those injured have been identified as Shiril Obroy (39) from West Delhi, Naveen Bhardwaj (37) from Kaharar in Mohali and Ranjeet Singh (45) from Batseri in Sangla.

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