Dharamshala rape case: Himachal police and CM stoke controversy, protests continue

Protests continued on Thursday over the alleged rape of a college student in Dharamsala, with the police now claiming that there's no evidence of any gangrape and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh saying that the girl was possibly being used to malign somebody

Shimla: A day after the Himachal Pradesh police formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and registered an FIR in connection with alleged rape of a college student in Dharamsala, protests continued on Thursday with the top cop now claiming that there's no evidence of any gangrape and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh saying that the girl was possibly being used to malign somebody.

Denying that a student was gang-raped in a Dharamshala college on Monday, the police held a press conference on Thursday and claimed that there was no evidence to prove any sexual assault.

They had registered a first information report or FIR yesterday, after outrage on social media and protests by students.

A senior police officer said they have questioned a woman who had made met the college principal and alleged that her sister was gang-raped on campus.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Thursday stoked a controversy by saying that the alleged gang-rape of a student of the local Government Post-Graduate College was an attempt to 'malign somebody'.

Virbhadra said the woman who was questioned told the police that there was no gang-rape. "The lady concerned has been traced and she is in police custody," the chief minister said, adding, "Interrogation is going on, it seems the girl was being used to malign somebody."

The Himachal Pradesh police had on Wedenesday also announced a reward of Rs 25,000 for providing information about the crime.

The move came after people vented their anger on the social media and also students protested against the crime.

The police registered an FIR under Sections 354 and 509 of IPC while the Director General of Police announced an award of Rs 25,000 for providing information about the alleged crime, a senior official said.

DGP Sanjay Kumar said that an SIT, headed by Inspector General of Police (North), had been set up to speed up investigations and ADGP (law and order) Sanjay Kundu would monitor the progress of probe.

"The case would be thoroughly investigated and anyone found guilty would be punished," Kumar said.

Meanwhile, several organisations including VHP, SFI and ABVP have demanded stringent action against the culprits.

State VHP organising secretary, Manoj Kumar demanded that culprits be immediately arrested, brought to justice and awarded capital punishment.

"If the case is not investigated properly and culprits are not awarded capital punishment, the crime against women would escalate in the state and the image of Himachal, known as 'Dev Bhumi' would be sullied," he said.

Former BJP minister Krishan?Kapoor at Dharamshala also demanded that accused, irrespective of their status be given death sentence in accordance with law.

The SFI campus unit of HPU also protested against the alleged rape today and said despite the family members of the victim urging the principal of the college?for registration of case against the accused, no action was taken.

"The culprits of heinous crime should be nabbed and stringent punishment be awarded to them," Campus secretary Vikram Kaith demanded.

The ABVP took out protest march demanding action against the culprits.

Few days ago, tension prevailed over the mysterious 'gang rape' incident, which allegedly took place within the campus of Degree College in Dharamshala. The incident, however, hasn't been confirmed and the victim, too, hasn't been traced so far.

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