A special court has convicted six people accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. The seventh accused, Vishal, who is the son of main accused Sanji Ram, was acquitted. The quantum of punishment will be announced later. The in-camera trial in the case that shook the nation ended on June 3.
Those convicted are Sanji Ram, the village head, his juvenile nephew Anand Dutta and two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. Also convicted are Head Constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.
Earlier, the District and Sessions Court in Pathankot was turned into a fortress, as a large number of security personnel and riot control vehicles were deployed here ahead of verdict .
According to the charge-sheet, the girl, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe, was kidnapped and held captive at a village temple in Kathua district on January 10 last year. She was drugged, starved and repeatedly raped for days. She was finally strangled and her head was bashed in with a rock.
The child’s mutilated body was found in a forest area on January 17.
The day-to-day trial commenced in the first week of June last year at the district and sessions court in Pathankot in neighbouring state of Punjab, about 100 km from Jammu and 30 km from Kathua, after the Supreme Court ordered that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir.
People’s Democratic Party president and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti also welcomed the judgement saying, “High time we stop playing politics over a heinous crime where an 8-year-old child was drugged, raped repeatedly & then bludgeoned to death. Hope loopholes in our judicial system are not exploited & culprits get exemplary punishment.”
Welcome the judgement. High time we stop playing politics over a heinous crime where an 8 year old child was drugged, raped repeatedly & then bludgeoned to death. Hope loopholes in our judicial system are not exploited & culprits get exemplary punishment https://t.co/jBuRUdGa5h
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) June 10, 2019
National Conference leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah too lauded the conviction of six of the accused in the Kathua rape and murder case. He said that the guilty people should receive the “most severe” punishment. In a tweet he wrote :
Amen to that. The guilty deserve the most severe punishment possible under law. And to those politicians who defended the accused, vilified the victim & threatened the legal system no words of condemnation are enough. #KathuaRapeCase https://t.co/gL2FfRL3rJ
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) June 10, 2019