The gangrape and murder of 16-year-old girl in Kotkhai area of Shimla district has snowballed into a major controversy as apart from the locals protests on the issue, horticulturalists of the area have decided to not to harvest apple till the culprits are arrested.

Even the students of the victim’s village are not attending classes after the incident came to light. In fact, the students of surrounding villages along with the locals are staging protests and have not attended classes since the last few days.

“The children of the victim’s village are quite afraid after the incident and many of them are not attending school after the incident,” Saroj Kanwar, the pradhan of Mahasu panchayat in Kotkhai told The Statesman.

The students have to walk for 13 km to reach the school and around 3 km area falls under dense forest, she added.

There is no bus service to the area and it is around 4 hours walk to reach the school. The students reach their home around 6 p.m. or after that, making their parents worry about the safety and it might be the reason the most of them are not attending school after the incident, Kanwar added.

Meanwhile, local bodies, representatives on Tuesday gave ultimatum to the government to solve the case within five daysor else women of the area would start an indefinite protest.

“It is a heinous crime which is the result of deteriorating law and order situation in the state,” Neelam Srek, Zila Parishad member from Kotkhai said.

Srek said all political parties should come together on the issue instead of seeking political mileage on the issue and should put pressure on the government to arrest all the accused as soon as possible.

“Such crimes are the result of drugs menace that is prevalent in the state and in Kotkhai area too,” she said, adding the younger generation is falling prey to it.

Various social organisations met the Director General of Police, Himachal Pradesh, Somesh Goyal and demanded speedy investigations in the case.

 College students and social organisations also organised a candle march in Shimla seeking justice for the victim.