A man accused of rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl in Shimla in July 2017 has been found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment by a CBI court in Himachal Pradesh’s capital.
Anil Kumar, a woodcutter, was found guilty under several sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
On July 4, 2017, the Class 10 student in Shimla’s Kotkhai left her school but never reached home.
Two days later, her body was found in a ditch in a nearby forest, with her clothes, an empty liquor bottle and some other items scattered around her. The autopsy indicated she was raped and died due to strangulation.
The case had sparked massive protest in and around Shimla, with a mob setting Kotkhai police station and vehicles on fire.
Initially, six suspects were arrested. One of them, Suraj, died while in police custody. After the high court’s intervention, the Central Bureau of Investigation took over the matter and filed two cases – one over the rape and murder of the student, and the other into custodial death of Suraj.
The CBI arrested Anil Kumar in April 2018 and filed a chargesheet against him. He remained the only accused in the case thereafter.
Nine police officers, including an Inspector General-rank officer, were sent to jail for the custodial death of one of the initial suspects.
The CBI in April 2018 revealed how it went about finding the accused by using advanced DNA technology of percentage and lineage matching. The agency first tried to make a sketch by asking nearby liquor shops who bought the bottles that were found at the scene of crime.
The number of names this threw up was also added to the list of those with a criminal background in the area. Over 1,000 locals were questioned and the written statements of 400 people taken.
Eventually, a list of 250 people was drawn up whose DNA samples were tested. Out of them, one seemed to show some similarity with the DNA sample found at the crime scene and this was traced to a family in Kangra.
“The forensics team used a percentage and lineage match system which was a more advanced version and could trace DNA samples taken from distant relatives,” a CBI officer told NDTV in April 2018.
The CBI team in Kangra did further testing of the entire family and found that one of its members was out on bail since September 2016. “When we tested his parents, it turned out to be a 100 per cent match,” said the officer. The next challenge was to track the man who was on the run. He was eventually arrested.