Pathankot, June 10, : Six of the seven accused in the brutal rape and murder case of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir were convicted by a special court here on Monday.
These includes Sanjhi Ram, Parvesh Kumar, police officer Deepak khajuria 302;376-D;120-B;363; 328; 34. (Criminal conspiracy, rape, murder) Anand Dutta; Tilak Raj; Surinder Verma under 201 RPC. (Destruction of evidence) while the son of head village Sanjhi Rami, Vishal Jangotra was acquitted. The court pronounced life imprisonment of 25 years to Sanji Ram, Parvesh Kumar and Deepak Khajuria. Three others, who have been found guilty for destruction of evidence, have been sentenced to five years in jail.
The acquitted minor will be tried separately in accordance with juvenile act. His trial is stuck because of a dispute over his age; he claims he is a minor and a petition on his age is yet to be heard. Sanji Ram, 61, a retired revenue officer who was the priest of the temple was the mastermind of this gruesome incident.
The child’s mother had demanded capital punishment for two of those convicted – retired government officer Sanji Ram and police officer Deepak Khajuria – claiming that they were the “masterminds” behind the crime.
After the conviction of six accused, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi hit out at the BJP leadership in Jammu for coming in support of the accused in 2018. “Never forget that BJP leadership in Jammu rallied around these 6 monsters, gave them support and attempted to prevent law from taking its own course,” he tweeted.
Pertinently, an eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on January 10 last year, was allegedly raped in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district after having been kept sedated for four days before she was bludgeoned to death.
The abduction, rape and killing of the child was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, the 15-page charge sheet said.
The Crime Branch arrested village head Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, juvenile nephew and his friend Anand Dutta, and two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. Head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence, were also arrested.
The case had become a bone of contention between the then ruling alliance partners PDP and the BJP after two ministers of the saffron party, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, participated in a rally organized by the Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the accused, arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir crime branch.
The closed-door hearing in the case was completed on June 3, during which district and sessions judge Tejvinder Singh had announced the date of verdict.
As per the chargesheet filed in the case, the girl was abducted on January 10, 2018 and held captive at a temple in a village in Kathua district. She was kept unconscious for almost four days, during which she was raped. Following the heinous act, the child was brutally murdered.
The hearing in the case was conducted on a day-to-day basis in the district and sessions court in Pathankot in Punjab. The case was transferred to Pathankot on the orders of the Supreme Court.