Kathua Case: 6 held guilty of 8-year-old's rape, murder
In what comes as a sigh of relief for those who have faith in the judiciary, Pathankot court on Monday convicted six of the seven accused in the horrific Kathua rape and murder case. To recall, an eight-year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered in January last year, sparking widespread protests across the nation. The quantum of punishment will be pronounced at 2 PM.
Backstory: The victim was drugged, raped, bludgeoned to death
The girl, who belonged to Bakarwal community, was kidnapped on January 10 and held captive for four days. According to the 15-page charge-sheet filed by police, the victim was gang-raped, starved, sedated, and bludgeoned to death. One of the accused came from Meerut "to satisfy his lust" and another one wanted to rape her "one more time" before killing her. Eight people, including a juvenile, were arrested.
Police, seen as guardians of law, destroyed evidence
Days later, horrific details related to the crime came to fore. Police sub-inspector Anand Dutta and head constable Tilak Raj allegedly destroyed crucial evidence in the case, they were later arrested. The other people who were arrested are village head Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, his nephew, and the nephew's friend Parvesh Kumar. Special officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma were also held.
Prime accused and his son were convicted by court
The accused were charged under Sections 120B, 328, 363, 343, 376D, 302, 328 and 201 of the J&K State Ranbir Penal Code for criminal conspiracy, gangrape, and murder. The prime accused Sanji Ram allegedly hatched the conspiracy to ward off the minority community from the area. Apart from Sanji Ram, Anand Dutta, Parvesh Kumar, Deepak Khajuria, Surender Verma and Tilak Ram were found guilty.
Shockingly, protests were held in support of accused
Notably, the case had taken a political turn after protests were held supporting the alleged rapists. The Hindu Ekta Manch claimed the accused were "unfairly targeted" and took out marches demanding that the case should be shifted to CBI. Later, lawyers at Jammu court stopped the crime branch from filing the charge-sheet. Seeing the series of events, the Supreme Court had moved the case to Pathankot Court.
On SC's directions, the accused were kept in Gurdaspur jail
The in-camera daily basis trial concluded on June 3. Nearly 114 witnesses were examined by the defense and prosecution in the last one year. All accused, except the juvenile, were sent to Gurdaspur jail. The apex court also restricted the appearance of defense lawyers to one or a maximum two per accused. The verdict was announced by District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh.
Former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti welcomed the judgment
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 https://t.co/jBuRUdGa5h— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) June 10, 2019