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Published On: Mon, Jun 10th, 2019

Six Accused Convicted in Kathua Rape Murder Case

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kathua-case-verdictPATHANKOT : Former govt officer Sanji Ram, who was believed to be the mastermind, was among those sentenced to life in jail by a special fast-track court in Pathankot. His son is the only one let off, over lack of evidence. Two policemen have been sentenced to five years in jail.
Sanji Ram, the temple priest and main accused in the brutal gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua, is among the six who have been convicted of the heinous crime by a Pathankot special court today. Amid nationwide outrage over the savage killing of the child, the case was handed over to the Crime Branch.
While the priest, Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar have got life imprisonment. The three accused policemen get five-year jail term each. Ram’s son Vishal Jangotra is the only one to have been acquitted.
The girl, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe, was kidnapped on January 10 last year and held captive at a village temple in Kathua. She was drugged, starved and repeatedly raped for days. Finally, she was strangled and her head was bashed in with a rock. One of the accused allegedly begged to rape her one last time before she was killed.
Elaborate security arrangements were made in and around the court and in Kathua in view of the pronouncement of the judgment. Over 1,000 policemen and security personnel have been deployed in and around the Pathankot court, where the trial was shifted given the highly sensitive nature of the case.
The in-camera trial in the case that shook the nation ended on June 3, when district and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh had announced that the verdict was likely to be delivered on June 10.
Five year jail term has been announced for the three cops – Sub Inspector Anand Dutta, head constable Tilak Raj and special police officer Surender Verma, accused of destroying evidence. 25 years of life imprisonment has been announced for three accused – Parvesh, Deepak Khajuria and Sanji Ram.
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 after the Supreme Court ordered that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir.

The apex court order came after lawyers in Kathua prevented Crime Branch officials from filing a charge sheet in the sensational case, which shocked the nation. The prosecution team in the case comprised JK Chopra, SS Basra and Harminder Singh.

The Crime Branch arrested village head Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, juvenile nephew and his friend Anand Dutta, and two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. 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.

Charges of rape and murder were framed by the district and sessions judge against seven out of the eight accused. The trial against the juvenile is yet to begin as his petition on determining his age is to be heard by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.All the accused, barring the juvenile, were shifted to Gurdaspur jail .

The charge sheet said the girl had gone missing while grazing horses. Investigators said the accused juvenile had abducted the girl under the pretext of helping her find her horses. The abduction, rape and killing of the child was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, it said.

The case had become a bone of contention between the then ruling alliance partners PDP and the BJP after two ministers of the saffron BJP, 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.

“Welcome the judgement. High time we stop playing politics over a heinous crime where an 8 year old child was drugged, raped repeatedly & then bludgeoned to death. Hope loopholes in our judicial system are not exploited & culprits get exemplary punishment,” tweeted  PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, who was chief minister when the case erupted.

Late last year, the family of the Kathua victim dropped their lawyer – Deepika Rajawat – accusing her of not making herself available for court hearings. Ms Rajawat, for her part, said she had been receiving death threats ever since she took up the case.(With Agency Inputs ).
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