By convicting six people in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl, the court has passed a landmark judgment but the convicts deserved capital punishment, child rights experts have said.
A court in Pathankot on Monday sentenced to life three ofthe six convicts. The other three, all policemen, were sentenced to five yearsin prison. Another accused was acquitted in the verdict that was widely hailed.
Dr Rouf Malik, a child right expert, said the court has"done justice" but the punishment should have been more rigorous consideringthe fact that the child was gang raped inside a temple and then murderedbrutally.
Malik added: "The family should have been compensated as hasbeen done in many other cases. Childrights organisations should ask for compensation for the family."
In January last year, the Bakerwal child was abducted whilegrazing horses in a forest in Rasana area of Kathua district. She was thenstarved and drugged inside a temple and gang raped several times over by severalmen before being murdered.
Her mutilated body was discovered in the forests not farfrom her home a week after she was reported missing by her family.
An investigation by police Crime Branch brought out thehorrifying details of the crime against the child, sparking a global outrageand demands for speedy justice.
And a year later the court pronounced the verdict andawarded punishment to the accused in the case.
Shareef Bhat, State Programme Manager at the Save theChildren, an NGO who works for child rights, said, "The court has done its job.Now this judgment should act as a deterrent."
Another child rights expert, requesting anonymity, said theconvicts deserved capital punishment. He said after the outrage over Nirbhaya,a new law was brought in so that stringent punishment is meted out to theculprits.
"This nomadic girl was brutally raped and murdered. So theaccused deserved capital punishment," he said.
As reported by this newspaper, the Jammu and Kashmir CrimeBranch had said they would appeal against the quantum of punishment pronouncedin the case.
However, Prabhat Kumar, Head of the Child Protection at theSave the Children, said, "This is a milestone verdict and despite so muchchallenges both politically and socially the justice has been done,particularly in a timely manner. Most of the times when we see such crimes takeplaces and there is this culture of impunity. In this case the girl belonged toa poor family, had no political background but still the justice has been doneto them. The judiciary, investigation and prosecution, all three worked well."