‘Gudia’ gangrape and murder case in Himachal Pradesh took a major twist on Tuesday as CBI arrested eight police officials, including Inspector General of Police Zahur H Zaidi, with regard to custodial death of one of the accused in Kotkhai police’s lock-up in wee hours of 19 July, six days after his arrest.

The accused were produced before a local court in Shimla and sent to police custody till 4 September.

Zaidi was heading the Special Investigation team (SIT) of the state Police, before the Gudia case and the following custodial death case was handed over to CBI by HP High Court on state government’s plea on 19 July.

CBI spokesperson confirmed that besides Zaidi, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Theog) Manoj Joshi, then Station House Officer (Kotkhai) Rajender Singh, Assistant Sub Inspector Deep Chand Sharma, Head Constables Surat Singh, Mohan Lal and Rafiq Ali and constable Ranjit Singh were arrested on Tuesday.

On 18 August, the CBI had filed second status report of the probe into Gudia gangrape and custodial death cases in the High Court, following which the court had directed the SIT members to file separate affidavits on 24 August.

The case is now listed on 6 September, as the court on 18 August had told the CBI to complete the investigation into the two cases in two weeks.

Gudia, a tenth standard girl from Kotkhai, had gone missing after school hours on 4 July.

Her body was found in the woods on 6 July. Her autopsy had confirmed that she was raped and strangulated to death.

The state SIT, which had made six arrests on 12 and 13 July, into the ghastly crime committed on 16-year-old girl from Kotkhai area in Shimla district, had failed to satisfy public, which alleged the Police were sheltering some influential people.

This had to public protests in upper Shimla, leading the state government to refer the case to CBI. The government had moved an application in the HC to expedite the handover of probe in Gudia case to CBI.

Later, one of the accused, a Nepalese, was allegedly killed in Police lock up on 19 July. The state Police theory was that Suraj was allegedly killed by another co-accused in the police lock-up, which had infuriated the people further.

On 19 July, the Court had directed the CBI to probe into the Gudia case, along with the custodial death of Suraj.

The arrests of Police officials come as a major setback for the Himachal government, which was already in the dock for influencing the State Police inquiry to save some rich and elite, who allegedly had their involvement in the crime.

Uploading of some pictures with regard to Gudia case on Chief Minister’s Facebook account, which was deleted later, before the arrests had led to more doubts in the mind of the public as they were different from those arrested.