KATHUA RAPE AND MURDER|Landmark verdict but convicts deserve 'harsher punishment'

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 of the six convicts. The other three, all policemen, were sentenced to five years in 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 considering the fact that the child was gang raped inside a temple and then murdered brutally.

Malik added: “The family should have been compensated as has been done in many other cases.  Child rights organisations should ask for compensation for the family.”

In January last year, the Bakerwal child was abducted while grazing horses in a forest in Rasana area of Kathua district. She was then starved and drugged inside a temple and gang raped several times over by several men before being murdered.

Her mutilated body was discovered in the forests not far from her home a week after she was reported missing by her family.

An investigation by police Crime Branch brought out the horrifying details of the crime against the child, sparking a global outrage and demands for speedy justice. 

And a year later the court pronounced the verdict and awarded punishment to the accused in the case.

Shareef Bhat, State Programme Manager at the Save the Children, 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 the convicts deserved capital punishment. He said after the outrage over Nirbhaya, a new law was brought in so that stringent punishment is meted out to the culprits.

“This nomadic girl was brutally raped and murdered. So the accused deserved capital punishment,” he said.

As reported by this newspaper, the Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch had said they would appeal against the quantum of punishment pronounced in the case.

However, Prabhat Kumar, Head of the Child Protection at the Save the Children, said, “This is a milestone verdict and despite so much challenges both politically and socially the justice has been done, particularly in a timely manner. Most of the times when we see such crimes take places and there is this culture of impunity. In this case the girl belonged to a poor family, had no political background but still the justice has been done to them. The judiciary, investigation and prosecution, all three worked well.”