KATHUA RAPE-N-MURDER | Pathankot Court to pronounce verdict today

KATHUA RAPE-N-MURDER | Pathankot Court to pronounce verdict today
Representational PIc

The verdict in the case of rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir will be delivered by a special court here on Monday.

The in-camera trial in the case that shook the nation endedon June 3, when District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh had announced thatthe verdict was likely to be delivered on June 10.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and aroundthe court and in Kathua in view of the pronouncement of the judgement,officials said Sunday.

The situation will be monitored closely, they said.

According to the 15-page charge sheet, the eight-year-oldgirl, who was kidnapped on January 10 last year, was allegedly raped incaptivity in a small village temple in Kathua district after having been keptsedated for four days before she was bludgeoned to death.

The day-to-day trial commenced in the first week of Junelast year at the District and Sessions Court in Pathankot in neighbouring stateof Punjab, about 100 km from Jammu and 30 km from Kathua, after the SupremeCourt ordered that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir.

The apex court order came after lawyers in Kathua preventedCrime Branch officials from filing a charge sheet in the sensational case,which shocked the nation.

The prosecution team in the case comprised J K Chopra, S SBasra and Harminder Singh.

The Crime Branch arrested village head Sanji Ram, his sonVishal, 'juvenile' nephew and his friend Anand Dutta, and two special policeofficers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. Head constable Tilak Raj andsub-inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram anddestroyed crucial evidence, were also arrested.

Charges of rape and murder were framed by the district andsessions judge against seven out of the eight accused. The trial against thejuvenile is yet to begin as his petition on determining his age is to be heardby the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

The court 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, if convicted, face minimum life imprisonmentand maximum death penalty.

The court also framed charges of destruction of evidence andcausing hurt by poisoning under Section 328 of the RPC. The two policemen–  Raj and Datta – were also chargedunder Section 161 (public servant taking illegal gratification) of the RPC.

All the accused, barring the juvenile, were shifted toGurdaspur jail following an intervention by the Supreme Court which alsorestricted appearance of the defence lawyers and limited it to one or maximumof two per accused.

The charge sheet said the girl had gone missing while grazinghorses. Investigators said the accused juvenile had abducted the girl under thepretext of helping her find her horses.

The abduction, rape and killing of the child was part of acarefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from thearea, it said.

The case had become a bone of contention between the thenruling alliance partners PDP and the BJP after two ministers of the saffronparty, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, participated in a rallyorganised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the accused arrested by thestate crime branch.

The rape and killing of the girl had sparked outrage acrossthe state, forcing the government to handover the case to the Crime Branch ofJ&K police.

After the chilling details about the horrific crime cameout, protests had broken out in different parts of India seeking death penaltyfor the accused.

On 13 April 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modicondemned  the horrific incident and saidjustice would be ensured. United Nations Secretary General AntonioGuiterres also said that the "guilty must be held responsible" anddescribed the incident as "horrific".

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