SHIMLA -- The CBI on Tuesday arrested eight policemen, including an IPS officer, for the custodial death of an accused in the sensational gang rape and murder of a schoolgirl in Shimla district last month, an official said.
The policemen included Inspector General (IG) Zahur H. Zaidi, who was heading the Special Investigation Team probing the crime, Deputy Superintendent Manoj Joshi and a former Station House Officer Rajinder Singh.
The policemen were produced before a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Shimla on Tuesday afternoon that sent them to the agency's custody till September 4.
"We made an arrest of eight policemen, including IG Zahur H. Zaidi," CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal told IANS over phone from New Delhi.
He said all of them were arrested for the custodial death of an accused.
Police said the 16-year-old girl was offered a lift in a vehicle by the accused on July 4 when she was returning home from school in Kotkhai town, some 56 from the state capital.
On the way, they raped and murdered her in a nearby forest. Her naked body with injury marks was found two days later.
The arrested persons are prime accused Rajinder Singh, who offered her the lift, Ashish Chauhan, Subhash Bisht, Deepak Kumar, Suraj Singh and Lokjan. They believed to be drunk at the time of the crime.
The autopsy report mentioned injuries on the girl's body.
However, a new twist in the case came after Rajinder Singh allegedly murdered fellow accused Suraj Singh in the police lock-up in Kotkhai on July 19.
Following the gang-rape of the girl, people held massive protests in the state. The family of the victim alleged that the "real culprits", who belong to high-profile families, have gotten away "scot free".
Later, on the plea of the state government the state High Court recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the case.
Before the case was handed to the CBI, the Special Investigation Team was handling the case.
Pulling up the CBI over the slow pace of investigation in the case, the High Court on August 17 granted it two weeks more to complete the probe.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma also made all policemen of the Special Investigation Team as respondents in the case.
On court orders, the CBI constituted a Special Investigation Team headed by a Superintendent of Police after registering a case under charges of murder and rape of the Indian Penal Code, apart from sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The CBI also registered a separate FIR to probe the circumstances that led to the death of Suraj Singh.