Protests again erupt in Himachal two weeks after Chamba murder case


Shimla, June 22 (IANS) Protests erupted once again on Thursday in Himachal Pradesh’s Chamba town and elsewhere in the district over the murder two weeks ago of a 21-year-old man, who was killed for having a love affair with a woman from another community.

However, there was no report of violence.

Protesters demanded justice for the victim family and a speedy trial while the victim’s family has been demanding capital punishment.

The entire tourist destination Chamba, some 450 km from the state capital, was kept closed with all businesses forced to down shutters as a mark of solidarity with Manohar Lal, a mule owner, whose body was brutally cut into eight pieces and thrown into a drain allegedly by the woman’s kin.

The call for the protest was given by organisation Dev Bhumi Kshatriya Sangathan led by Rumit Thakur. Its activists threatened to reach the Salooni subdivision to meet the family members of the victim.

Likewise, commercial establishments remained closed in other destinations in Chamba district like Dalhousie, Khajjiar, a small picturesque saucer-shaped plateau surrounded by dense pine and deodar forests, Banikhet, Tissa, Bharmour, known for 84 temples of Hindu deities, among others.

The protest led to long traffic snarls on the highway.

A local association, Sanghni Hatyakand Sangharsh Samiti, held the mass ‘Vishal Janakrosh Rally’ in protest against the murder and also gave a call for shut down Chamba town for four hours from 9 a.m.

The crime took place in the Bhandal panchayat of Salooni sub-division, located some 75 km from the district headquarters of Chamba, bordering Jammu and Kashmir.

The victim went missing on June 6 and his body was discovered on June 9.

The police have taken into custody 10 people, including four minors, for the murder, all belonging to a Muslim pastoral family.

Earlier, the convoy of former chief minister Jai Ram Thakur and state BJP chief Rajeev Bindal was stopped by the police as they tried to enter Chamba district.

The administration has already imposed prohibitory orders across the district as the preventing step as a mob set afire the house of the accused last week.

“My son was hacked to death. He was our only son, we want justice,” the victim’s father has told the media and demanded capital punishment.

Saying the BJP is exploiting the situation for political gains and could initiate an NIA investigation into the murder, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu last week expressed displeasure over the protests by the opposition.

He said this case was the first of its kind in the country where all accused have been apprehended and are currently in police custody.

Sukhu was responding to a situation after the murder in Chamba district with BJP protesters demanding the probe into the crime be handed over to the National Investigating Agency (NIA).

The Chief Minister has told the media here that all accused involved in the murder were arrested within 24 hours.

He has said the BJP, being the ruling party at the Centre, could easily initiate an NIA investigation by a mere phone call from Leader of Opposition Jai Ram Thakur.

However, he blamed the BJP for exploiting the situation for political gain, with an eye on the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The Chief Minister has said despite arrests, the BJP’s youth wing, the Yuva Morcha, after five days of the incident has set ablaze the houses of the accused.


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