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'Failed Her as Humans': Chilling Kathua Rape Chargesheet Jolts India's Political Class Out of Slumber

News18 Creatives by Mir Suhail

News18 Creatives by Mir Suhail

As shocking details from the chargesheet made their way to public discourse, politicians and celebrities took to social media, with Union minister VK Singh among the first to comment from the Centre.

New Delhi: An eight-year-old girl was held captive, starved, sedated and repeatedly raped inside a ‘devisthan’ in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district before being murdered and dumped in a nearby forest. This was on January 17.

Nearly three months later, India has finally woken up to the horror the child suffered, details of which have been chronicled in the chargesheet filed by the police.

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

Sanji Ram was allegedly joined by special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, Ram's nephew, a juvenile, and his son Vishal Jangotra alias "Shamma". The chargesheet also names investigating officers -- head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.

A separate chargesheet was filed on Tuesday on the role of the juvenile, who cannot be publicly named according to the law. All eight are under arrest.

As chilling details from the chargesheet made their way to public discourse, politicians and celebrities took to social media, with Union minister VK Singh among the first to comment from the Centre.

"We have failed her as humans. But she will not be denied justice. #PunishTheSavages #RapeAndMurderOfHumanity #Kathua #GenerallySaying," tweeted Singh.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to express his dismay over the communalisation of the case and wondered how can anyone defend the culprits. “What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child? “How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil?” he wrote.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is under fire for not acting against BJP ministers who rallied in defence of the accused, said the “law will not be obstructed”.

"The Law will not be obstructed by the irresponsible actions & statements of a group of people. Proper procedures are being followed, investigations are on the fast track & justice will be delivered," she said in a tweet.

Opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, however, lashed out at the chief minister for not taking any action against two BJP ministers.

"What rubbish! They are HER ministers, not the Hon(ourable) PM s. The way for her to express her displeasure is to sack them in Jammu not come & leak her alleged displeasure in Delhi (sic)," Omar wrote on his Twitter handle.

The Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police filed two separate chargesheets against the eight accused persons. According to investigators, the girl’s cause of death was asphyxia leading to cardio-pulmonary arrest.

"In the course of investigation, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) members along with Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) experts and naib Tehsildar (executive magistrate) again visited the scene of occurrence and tried to reconstruct the scene of crime," according to the chargesheet.

It said minute examination of these locations led to the recovery of various items including blood-stained wooden sticks and hair strand which were seized, packed and sealed by the magistrate.

The sealed packets containing the exhibits were sent to FSL for analysis and report. Besides, few hair strands recovered from 'Devisthan' and nearby forest where the body of the girl was dumped by the accused were forwarded to experts in Delhi for DNA profiling.

"On the basis of opinion furnished by the experts, one of the hair strands recovered from the Devisthan matched with the DNA profile of victim which confirmed that she was kept in captivity at Devisthan which is exclusively manned by mastermind Sanji Ram to the exclusion of any other person of the area," the chargesheet read.

Similarly, the hair strand recovered from the place of recovery of the body matched with the DNA profile of the juvenile who raped the girl several times after abducting her, it said.

Apart from politicians, celebrities and sportspersons also took to Twitter demanding justice for the minor.

Sonam wrote, "Ashamed appalled and disgusted by fake nationals and fake Hindus. I cannot believe this is happening in my country."

Actor/Filmmaker Farhan Akhtar who has been working towards the gender discrimination and disparity through his initiative MARD, expressed shock and grief over the entire episode. He wrote, "Imagine what goes through the mind of an 8 yr old as she is drugged, held captive, gang raped over days and then murdered. If you don’t feel her terror, you are not human. If you don’t demand she get justice, you belong to nothing."

His father and veteran lyricist also tweeted his anger over the gruesome incident that happened in Kathua and Unnao as well. He wrote, "All those who wish justice for women should stand up and raise their voices against the rapists and their protectors in Unnao and Kathua . In Unnao the brother of the alleged rapist is arrested for beating the father of the rape victim which caused his death . So far police has not taken any action in the rape case .The MLA is walking free and has the audacity to call the victim n her Family ” lowly people (sic)."

Actor-Comedian Vir Das also expressed his disbelief on the entire aftermath of the case and tweeted, "I can't breathe after reading this. I need to share it. And so do you. Please do."

He further wrote, "Dear politicians, I'd like to see every one of you miserable scum and your army of slimy sycophants put your parties and your bullshit aside and do something to make sure that no child ever has to face what this girl did. But you won't. Because you don't deserve this country."

Cricketer Gautam Gambhir "challenged" the authorities to punish the guilty.

Riteish Deshmukh asked his fans and followers to demand justice and tweeted, "A 8 year old is drugged, raped & murdered and another one is fighting for justice for herself and the death of her father in custody. We have a choice either raise your voice or be a silent spectator. ‘Stand up for what is right even if you are standing alone. #Kathua #Unnao"

Richa Chadha tweeted, "Nothing justifies rape/murder of a minor. How dare they use cow-slaughter as an EXCUSE when the act was performed in a TEMPLE?These people are FAKE HINDUS,they are a disgrace to the religion. Shame on ALL those who defend them. #MeToo @SwatiJaiHind"