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'Communal Agenda in Kathua Case is Being Spearheaded by CM Mehbooba Mufti'

The lawyer for the accused has claimed that the entire investigation by the crime branch was botched up as witnesses were being tortured for favourable statements.

Debayan Roy |

Updated:April 17, 2018, 1:32 PM IST
'Communal Agenda in Kathua Case is Being Spearheaded by CM Mehbooba Mufti'
File Photo of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
New Delhi: The advocate for five out of eight accused in the Kathua rape and murder case has told News18 that the chargesheet filed by the crime branch was making political statements and showed how “Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was spearheading communal agenda in the state”.

The chargesheet also says that almost 50 to 60 witnesses were tortured for “favorable statements by the police”.

An eight-year-old went missing on 10 January around Rasana village of Hiranagar in Jammu’s Kathua district. The child was found dead on January 17.

The abduction, rape and killing of the Bakherwal girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, revealed the 15-page chargesheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Crime Branch.

It lists the caretaker of the Devisthan, a small temple, in Rassana village in Kathua, as the main conspirator behind the abduction, rape and killing.

The chargesheet says Sanjhi Ram, a key accused, was allegedly joined by special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma’s friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, along with Sanji Ram’s son Vishal Jangotra, alias Shamma, and his nephew.

Advocate Ankur Sharma, who is appearing for Sanjhi Ram, Vishal Jangotra, Deepak Khajuria, Surinder Verma and Parvesh, told News18 that “a chargesheet cannot state a community expulsion as the reason for a crime” and that “it was J&K CM who was intervening in the investigation”.

“The communal agenda is being spearheaded by the Chief Minister herself. The chargesheet shows this. How can an investigative agency state that a crime was committed to drive away a particular crime? They are manufacturing evidence and not gathering one. This is a political statement in the chargesheet…The CM has taken an ideological stand which will further hinder the process. The Chief Minister is directly intervening in the investigation,” said Sharma.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on April 15 accepted the resignations of the two BJP Ministers who participated in a rally in support of those arrested in connection with the rape and murder of the young victim.

The Chief Minister, on her part, has written to the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, seeking a fast track court to conclude within 90 days the trial in the case that has caused a nation-wide outrage.

The acceptance of the resignations came amid public protests in major metropolitan cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, demanding justice for the rape victims in Kathua and Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao

Sharma explained that this reasoning behind the crime was mentioned as “we have an enslaved mindset and think that majority communalism is bad, whereas, minority communalism is reactionary”.

“We have a very superficial approach towards the entire issue. Let us not forget that Muslim communalism in Jammu and Kashmir is a reality,” said the lawyer.

The lawyer for the accused has claimed that the entire investigation by the crime branch was botched up as witnesses were being tortured for favourable statements.

“All the witnesses examined by the crime branch have stated that they were tortured by the police and were always told about what to say and what not to say. Around 40 to 50 people have said that they have been tortured by the crime branch to give favourable statements,” said the lawyer.

Shwetambri Sharma, the only female member of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Crime Branch of the Jammu and Kashmir probing the case, had also recently explained that she had to face a lot of hurdles.

The lawyer has demanded a narco test to be conducted on the accused to reveal the truth.

“The accused were fighting for a CBI enquiry even when they were not arrested in interest of the rape victim. Narco test has been demanded only to secure justice for the girl so that all scientific means are used to achieve this goal,” said the Jammu-based advocate.

The next date of hearing the case in Jammu is April 28.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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