Himachal Pradesh is the least-corrupt state in India (as per CMS-INDIA study), second to Kerala in HDI and has a very low crime rate. It also has very ‘secular’ laws such as prohibition on animal slaughters which apply across all different faiths equally. In short the state rarely features in the news for negative reasons and is one of everyone’s favorite tourist destinations. A Place famed for its Serenity and calm is still recovering from the rude shock of the heinous crime that took place on the 4th of July. The Gudiya Rape Case.
On the 4th of July 2017, a 16 year-old girl did not return to her home in a hilltop village from Government Senior Secondary School, Mahasu. The girl used to walk 5km every day to attend school. Her father had always warned her about wild animals, that she should watch out, especially for bears on the way, but she would say, ‘Relax, papa… No one can harm me’. When she didn’t return, Her father thought, maybe a Bear attacked her daughter on her way to home. None of the locals ever thought of the trail being unsafe for a girl to walk alone in the middle of the day.
However, only two days later the Police recovered a body of a sixteen-year old, naked with brutal injuries. Autopsy would later show that most of Gudiya’s injuries were defensive, which showed her strong courage and attempts to fight back. Nevertheless, this scene was so horrific and unheard of that the locals couldn’t come to terms with the brutality and impudence.
The little 16 year old became ‘ Gudiya ’ for everyone and protests erupted across Himachal Pradesh demanding justice for Gudiya. The whole state came together as one family and put serious pressure on the government.
As the police started to look into the case, the official Facebook page of CM Virbhadra Singh started circulating photos of the alleged suspects. Only problem was, none of the photos were of any of the suspected culprits. The CM quickly apologized on his Official Facebook Page after public came to know that the photos being circulated were false. However the damage had been done and seeds of distrust were sown in the minds of the people. The Government was now under the scanner.
Under pressure, the government quickly constituted a special SIT team under IG Zahur Zaidi. Within one week on July 13th, the police claimed a major breakthrough and arrested 6 youth for the crime. 4 of the 6 alleged Perpetrators were Non-Himachalis. But people of Himachal were far from being convinced.
As one resident Roshan Lal summed up the opinions of the people, “Those arrested by the police are not the ones actually involved in the crime; this is just a whitewash. The police are trying to hush up the case.” Others also agreed and questioned why the culprits did not try to run away when they saw the state-wide protests.
With the high level of skepticism, a large angry Mob vandalised a police station in Theog. Protests erupted all across the state. Then on July 19th an accused called Suraj Singh was allegedly killed by a co-accused in the Kotkhai police station whilst in police custody. The Public Patience broke down and they burned the police station down continuing demands of justice. The whole state came to a screeching halt as roadblocks were enforced by the protesting crowds.
Finally the state government succumbed to the Public Pressure and a CBI enquiry was ordered to probe into the Rape and Murder of Gudiya. On July 22nd the CBI took over the case and started re-examining all the evidences and re-looked into the death of Suraj Singh. On August 29th, 8 Himachal Pradesh police officers were arrested including the IG Zahur Zaidi and they were held responsible for the custodial death of accused Suraj Singh. They are currently in Delhi, where they being interrogated.
Even more recently on September 1st, Addl. SP from Shimla was also questioned by the CBI. With CBI stepping in, public has calmed down, there is a sense of law and order. However the damage has been done.
HP BJP spokesperson Mahendar Dharmani exclusively told TFI, “All the NGOs, political parties have united in protests against the police and government. The people have lost faith and trust in the government and police and are still desperate for justice.”
This shows the failure of the Congress government in handling a very sensitive case. This breach in trust will have very serious consequences for Virbhadra Singh as his government has already been riddled with scams and scandals.
There have been various versions of who the culprits are. The police and the government still both maintain that the suspects nabbed are in fact the real culprits. Locals have divided opinions with some saying a close relative of a policeman was involved while some say it was in fact the son of a local Congress leader.
The CBI have so far implicated “A close relative of a Himachal Pradesh law officer“ who has been questioned and named a suspect. The CBI has been working round the clock and perhaps credit should be given to the Central Government for not playing politics by allowing the CBI to rush into the case to put pressure on the Virbhadra Government. The CBI is due to give its finding to the court on the 4th of September.
One of the Most peaceful states in India endured quite possibly its worse nightmare. The state media did a good job in covering The Gudiya Rape incident from every angle and by raising all the right questions, in timely fashion with immense precision. The question is why has the national media been so sluggish to give this grave tragedy the attention it deserved. National TV news with the sole exception of Zee News have almost completely neglected this tragedy.
The gruesome rape and murder of a 16 year old in a state with low crime rate was deemed unimportant for the rest of the country to know. Why?
Don’t states like Himachal Pradesh matter?
The recent stalking of a girl by the son of a BJP leader got national headlines. BJP was attacked left, right and centre for the actions of the son of the BJP leader. Contrast that with the Gudiya case.
Was it because Himachal Pradesh has a Congress Government?
Regardless of whether the reasons were political, agenda driven or pure negligence, the Story of the Gruesome rape and murder of Gudiya needs to be discussed like the nation did in the case of ‘Nirbhaya’ gang-rape.