Crime Branch likely to challenge sentence part

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“Dissatisfied” with the quantum of sentence awarded to the convicted in the horrific rape and murder of Kathua girl, the Crime Branch of Jammu & Kashmir Police is “seriously considering” the option of appeal.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, IG Crime, Ahfad-ul-Mujtaba, said that “if need arises” they would go for appeal against the quantum of sentence as also the acquittal of one of the accused.  “We will examine the judgment and go for appeal, if need arises,” he said.

District and Sessions Judge Pathankot Tejwinder Singh Monday awarded life sentence to Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar after convicting them for murder, gang-rape and criminal conspiracy.

The other three, Anand Dutta, Tilak Raj and Surender Verma, convicted of destruction of evidence have been sentenced to five-year imprisonment.

The seventh accused, Vishal Jangotra, who happens to be Sanji Ram’s son, was acquitted by the Court.

A senior official in the Crime Branch, wishing not to be named, said they are satisfied with the conviction part of the judgment “but not with the quantum of sentence”.

“It was the rarest of the rare cases. We were expecting that the convicted would be awarded death sentence,” he said.

The IG Crime said: “The verdict has vindicated the probe carried out by the Crime Branch. The offences committed by the accused have got proved beyond any doubt,” he said.

The case was handed to the Crime Branch on 22 January 2018 after the opposition cornered the government over “laxity” in the investigation by the Kathua police.

Subsequently, the Crime Branch had constituted a team headed by SP Naveed Peerzada. The team was working under the supervision of SSP Crime Branch Jammu, Ramesh Kumar Jalla.

Later, the CB charge-sheeted eight persons for gang rape, murder and destruction of evidence in the case.