Last month's alleged rape and murder of 14-year-old Sonam inside the Nighasan police station in Lakhimpur-Kheri district, about 170 km from Lucknow, took a new turn Sunday when the investigators declared yet another cop as the main culprit.
In what was now described as a major breakthrough in the case, the Crime Branch of Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) on Sunday arrested Atiq Ahmad, the personal security officer-cum gunner of Lakhimpur-Kheri police circle officer." Ahmad has confessed his crime to the police", state cabinet secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh told a press conference.
"Atiq, who used to live in the police station premises, was found to have been trying to bait the minor girl by often doling out money or gifts to her. On June 10, he went a step ahead and enticed her to a secluded corner of the police station quarters, and tried to drag the girl into his room, but she resisted and screamed in protest, following which he first tried to gag her with his hand and then strangulated her with her own duppatta until she was dead," he said.
"CB-CID investigations have revealed that the cop initially left the place to offer namaz along with his circle officer Inayat Ullah Khan, only to return and then hang the dead body from a branch of a fallen tree in the vicinity to paint his crime as suicide, " the cabinet secretary disclosed.
He added, "It was solely on account of the chief minister's stern warning to all concerned officials that the case could be solved in record time by the CB-CID."
Earlier, the local police had arrested the police station follower (cook) Ram Chander as the key suspect in the murder. While the circle officer was transferred, five other policemen were suspended . Besides, all four doctors responsible for carrying out the first post-mortem on the girl were also suspended.
It may be recalled that the first post-mortem had dismissed the case as suicide. It was only following intervention of the government that a second post-mortem was carried out by a special team of Lucknow doctors who confirmed the death on account of "strangulation."