Temple Priest Sanji Ram Among Six Held Guilty in Kathua Rape and Murder Case, His Son Acquitted
Welcoming the verdict, the then J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti put out a statement on Twitter saying it was high time 'we stop playing politics over a heinous crime'.
Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18.
Six of seven accused on trial for the brutal gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua have been convicted.
Among those convicted are main accused Sanji Ram, Parvesh Kumar, special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar, sub-inspector Anand Dutta, and head constable Tilak Raj. Sanji Ram’s son Vishal Jangotra is the only one to have been let off due to lack of evidence. The quantum of the sentence will be pronounced at 2pm.
Welcoming the verdict, the then J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti put out a statement on Twitter saying it was 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”.
Deepika Singh Rajawat, the lawyer representing the victim’s family till November last year before she was sacked by them, told News18: “We should give a standing ovation to the crime branch. Time is to celebrate, time is to salute all these officials. They have done a tremendous job of investigating the case, filing a charge sheet and bringing the facts out.”
She added that the case being shifted to Pathankot “helped a lot in the final verdict today. In the earlier atmosphere, I know the technicalities, the problems that everybody would have faced had the case been in Jammu”.
Rajawat, who was given police protection after she was flooded with abuses, rape and murder threats, and faced hostility from her own legal fraternity, broke down while talking about the verdict. "The legal community had harassed me because of the case I took up. Today is a reply to all of them," she said.
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 100km from Jammu and 30km from Kathua, after the Supreme Court ordered that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir.
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.
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