Kathua rape-murder case: Six accused convicted
The eight-year-old girl, belonging to a nomadic Muslim tribe, was abducted, drugged, gang-raped, tortured and killed on January 10, 2018. The trial, which had begun in April 2018 against seven accused out of eight, concluded on June 3 last week
Pathankot: A court in Pathankot on Monday convicted six people accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. A seventh accused, Vishal, who is the son of main accused Sanji Ram, was acquitted. The quantum of punishment will be announced later on Monday. "The court has convicted six persons. Son of one of the accused Sanji Ram, Vishal has been acquitted," Farooqi Khan, lawyer of victim's family said after the sentencing.
The Supreme Court had on May 7, 2018, transferred the case from Kathua to Pathankot in Punjab. The in-camera trial in the case that shook the nation ended on June 3. According to the 15-page charge sheet, the eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on January 10 last year, was allegedly raped in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district after having been kept sedated for four days before she was bludgeoned to death.
The day-to-day trial commenced in the first week of June last year at the district and sessions court in Pathankot in Punjab, about 100 km from Jammu and 30 km from Kathua, after the Supreme Court ordered that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir.
Those convicted include Sanji Ram, the village head, and two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. Also convicted are Head Constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Datta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence. The girl's body was found on January 17 and autopsy confirmed gang rape and murder.
The court had framed charges under the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), including Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 376-D (gang-rape), according to the prosecution. The accused face minimum life imprisonment and maximum death penalty.
The court also framed charges of destruction of evidence and causing hurt by poisoning under Section 328 of the RPC. The two policemen - Raj and Datta - were also charged under Section 161 (public servant taking illegal gratification) of the RPC.
The case had become a bone of contention between the then ruling alliance partners PDP and the BJP after two ministers of the saffron party, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, participated in a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the accused arrested by the state crime branch.
The eight-year-old girl, belonging to a nomadic Muslim tribe, was abducted, drugged, gang-raped, tortured and killed on January 10, 2018. The trial, which had begun in April 2018 against seven accused out of eight, concluded on June 3 last week.
Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence, were also arrested by the Crime Branch. All of them, except the juvenile, are currently lodged in Gurdaspur jail in Punjab.
Two first information reports (FIRs) were filed in connection with this case. One against eight accused of allegedly being involved in the crime and another against a group of lawyers who had allegedly stopped the police from filing the charge sheet against the eight accused in this matter.
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