Kathua case | HC to hear plea for death penalty today

Kathua case | HC to hear plea for death penalty today

Punjab and Haryana High Court here on Wednesday decided to hear on Thursday the Kathua rape victim father's plea seeking death penalty for the heinous act and murder of his eight-year-old daughter in Jammu's Kathua district last year.

The father has sought an enhancement of the life sentenceawarded to three of the convicts.

After hearing briefly the case, the bench headed by JusticeRajiv Sharma said the case would be heard on Thursday, when connected matterswere scheduled for hearing.

The father is seeking death penalty for three of the sixconvicts who were sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court in Pathankotin Punjab on June 10.

The Special Court convicted six of the eight accused of thecrime committed and pronounced a life imprisonment of 25 years to three —temple priest and mastermind Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar.

Investigating officers Raj and Dutta, and Special PoliceOfficer Surinder Kumar were sentenced to five years in jail for destroyingcrucial evidence in the case.

Sanji Ram's son Vishal was acquitted due to lack ofevidence, but the fate of his "minor" nephew, the eight accused in the case,will be decided by the juvenile court.

His trial is yet to begin as a petition to determine his ageis awaiting judgment in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

According to the charge sheet, the girl, who belonged to anomadic tribe, was kidnapped and held captive at a village temple in Kathuadistrict on 10 January 2018.

The 15-page charge sheet, the eight-year-old girl wasstarved, sedated and repeatedly raped in captivity over several days beforebeing bludgeoned to death.

Her mutilated body was found in a forest on January 17.Three days later, one of the accused — reportedly a juvenile — was arrestedby the police, the charge sheet said.

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

The case sparked outrage across the state, forcing thegovernment to hand over the case to the Crime Branch of Jammu and KashmirPolice.

The case constrained relations between the then rulingcoalition partners, the PDP and the BJP after two ministers of the latter,ChowdharyLal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, participated in a rally organisedby the Hindu EktaManch in support of the arrested accused.The Supreme Court later ordered that the case beshifted out of Jammu and Kashmir and be heard on a daily basis by the trialcourt in Punjab's Pathankot.

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