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Shame on mankind: Kathua case A brutal incident

The Kathua rape case refers to the abduction, rape, and murder of an 8-year-old girl, Asifa Bano, in RASANA village near kathua in JAMMU and KASHMIR, India, in January 2018. A chargesheet for the case was filed, the accused were arrested and nomad Bakarwal community. She disappeared for a week before her body was discovered by the villagers a kilometer away from the village. The incident made national news when charges were filed against eight men in April 2018. The arrests of the accused led to protests by the PANTHERS PARTY, along with other local groups. One of the protests, in support of the accused, was attended by two ministers from the BJP, both of whom later resigned. The rape and murder, as well as the support the accused received, sparked widespread outrage. On 10 June 2019, six of the seven defendants were convicted and one acquitted. Three of those convicted were sentenced to life in prison and three to five years In October 2019, court ordered a FIRST INFORMATION REPORT (FIR) against 6 members of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which probed the case, for allegedly torturing and coercing witnesses to give false statements

The 5600-word chargesheet filed by a SENIOR SUPRETENDENT of POLICE of JAMMU, states that on 12 January 2018, Mohammad Yusuf lodged a complaint in the HIRANAGAR police station stating that his daughter had gone missing. His complaint said that his daughter, aged 8, had gone to watch over grazing horses 30 minutes past noon on 10 January 2018. She was seen at 2 PM, but when the horses returned at 4 PM, she was no longer with them. After searching for her and being unable to find her, her father registered a (FIR) with the police.

On 17 January 2018, the body of the victim was found and taken into custody by the police to allow an autopsy to be conducted. The postmortem was conducted by a team of doctors at the District Hospital in Kathua at 2:30 PM on the same day. On 22 January 2018, the investigation of the case was transferred to Crime Branch and Crime Headquarters, Jammu and Kashmir A statement released by the police listed seven individuals who had been arrested and charged over the crime, including four police officers. A total of eight people, including four police officers, were arrested Two of the police officers were arrested on suspicion of attempting to destroy evidence and of accepting money to cover up the incident. One of the accused claimed to be 15 years old, though a medical examination later suggested he was 19. Sanji Ram, one of the accused, was described by the police as having devised the plan of kidnap and murder The chargesheet against the seven adults accused of the crime was filed on 9 April. The accused were charged under Sections 302, 376, 201 and 120-B of the RANBIR PENAL CODE. A chargesheet against the remaining individual was under preparation.


Forensic Evidence


The post-mortem revealed the presence of clonazepam in the body of the dead girl. The examination by the doctors found that the girl had been drugged with a sedative before she was raped and murdered. Forensic evidence suggested that she had been held for several days by Sanji Ram, one of the individuals accused of the crime. Strands of hair recovered from the temple matched those taken from the girl. The forensic examination stated that Bano had been raped multiple times by different men, and that she had been strangled to death, as well as hit in the head with a heavy stone.


The Delhi Forensic Science Laboratory analyzed 14 packets of evidence containing vaginal swabs, hair strands, blood samples of four accused, viscera of the deceased girl, the girl's frock and salwar, simple clay, and blood stained clay. Vaginal swabs matched with the DNA of the accused as did some other samples. Hair strands found in the temple where Asifa was raped matched that of the girl and the accused.


The accused

Sanji Ram was found to be the main accused in the case. He is the priest of the family temple (devasthan), where the incident allegedly took place. The Hindu community of the village prays three times a day in that temple according to local people. His son Vishal and his nephew, a juvenile, were also accused in the case. The others who have been accused are Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar, who are police officers; Tilak Raj, a head constable and Arvind Dutta, a sub inspector. The police contested the claim that the nephew is a juvenile. Vishal Jangotra claimed to be in Meerut attending an exam. However, according to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), his signature does not match the signature on the exam attendance sheet.


India is a country where the system speaks and volumes up its voice only after the certain incident has been completed successfully by the culprits and later the voice is raised where somewhere provides an assertiveness by its own will by some or the other way and the system is reasonable for the crimes which discriminates people on the basis of caste creed and reservations as a so called welfare for the society.


Three of the six convicted in the rape-and-murder case of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua were awarded life imprisonment by a special court in Pathankot today. The remaining three accused, all police personnel, were sentenced to five years imprisonment. The seventh accused, Vishal, was acquitted by the court. Sanji Ram, the caretaker of the temple where the crime took place, Special Police Officer Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar, a civilian, were convicted under Ranbir Penal Code sections and sentenced to life imprisonment. The trio was fined Rs 1 lakh each for murder along with 25 years in jail for gangrape, lawyers said. Three accomplices — Sub Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj and special police officer Surender Verma — who were convicted for destruction of evidence, were handed over five years imprisonment.


According to the 15-page chargesheet, the eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on January 10, 2018, 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 case led to outrage across the country in January last year, with some groups in Jammu also coming out in support of the accused.


COMMENTS BY MINISTERS AND OTHERS ON HEINOUS CRIME

  • AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said the BJP should answer why its ministers in the previous J&K government attended a rally in support of the accused in the Kathua case. "BJP needs to answer as to why their ministers came out in support of those accused," he was quoted as saying by PTI. Owaisi claimed ministers belonging to the BJP (in the erstwhile BJP-PDP coalition) attended a rally in support of the accused.

  • Welcoming the court's verdict, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "Welcome court verdict in Kathua gangrape and murder of a minor girl. Those monsters who commit heinous crimes like Kathua and Aligarh deserve exemplary punishment."

  • Was expecting capital punishment for Kathua rape and murder criminals. The Jammu and Kashmir Government must go for appeal in a higher court," National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma was quoted as saying by ANI.

Three accomplices -- Sub Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj and special police officer Surender Verma -- who were convicted for destruction of evidence, were handed over five years imprisonment, PTI said.

(IS 5 YEARS SUFFICIENT FOR THESE MONSTERS?)

  • The three main accused were sentenced to life imprisonment and fined Rs 1 lakh each for murder along with 25 years in jail for gangrape, lawyers told PTI.

  • Sanji Ram, the caretaker of the temple where the crime took place, Special Police Officer Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar, a civilian, were convicted under Ranbir Penal Code sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy, murder, kidnapping, gangrape, destruction of evidence, drugging the victim and common intention.

  • The three main accused have also been sentenced to 25 years for charges of gangrape, PTI reported.

  • The remaining three convicted were sentenced to five years of imprisonment today.

  • "The guilty from Kathua rape-murder case are convicted- it gives me hope that such brutalities will not go unpunished. But it also makes me think of our collective consciousness as a society- why should Kathua or Aligarh happen? Need to educate our boys on how to treat and respect women," former Army chief and BJP MP VK Singh tweeted.

  • National Conference leader Omar Abdullah wrote that the guilty deserved the “most severe punishment.” “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,” he tweeted.

  • Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and PDP chief Mufti tweeted, “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.”

  • The prosecution team, comprising lawyers J K Chopra, S S Basra, Harminder Singh and Bhupinder Singh, issued a brief statement, saying they would examine the judgement and may go in for appeal against the sole acquittal. "We have sought capital punishment against all three accused convicted of murder and gang rape. It was hard work of all of us and a perfect blend of investigation and legal brains. We have achieve 99 per cent result," the statement said


TIMELINE OF KATHUA CASE


  • January 10, 2018: Eight-year-old girl belonging to nomadic tribe went missing in Rasana village of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district while she was grazing cattle.

  • January 12, 2018: An FIR was registered on the complaint of victim’s father at Hiranagar police station.

  • January 17, 2018: Body of the girl was found. Post mortem confirmed gang rape and murder.

  • January 22, 2018: Case was handed over to Jammu and Kashmir crime branch.

  • February 16, 2018: A right-wing group, Hindu Ekta Manch, held protests in support of one of the accused.

  • March 1, 2018: Two ministers of the BJP, part of the state’s ruling coalition with the PDP, Chander Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh, attended a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch after the arrest of the nephew of a caretaker of a temple in connection with the kidnapping and rape.

  • April 9, 2018: The police filed the charge sheet before the Kathua court against seven of the eight accused.

  • April 10, 2018: Charge sheet filed against the eighth accused who had claimed to be a juvenile. The police filed an FIR against lawyers for protesting and attempting to prevent the crime branch officials from filing the charge sheet in the court on April 9.

  • April 14, 2018: BJP ministers who attended the Hindu Ekta Manch rally resigned from the state Cabinet. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres terms the crime “horrific” and asks authorities to deliver justice.

  • April 16, 2018: Trial began before the Principal Sessions Court judge, Kathua. All accused pleaded ‘not guilty’.

  • May 7, 2018: The Supreme Court shifted the case from Kathua to Pathankot in Punjab after the victim’s father approached the apex court saying that he apprehended threat to his family and counsel’s life in Jammu. The apex court directs the trial to be fast-tracked and held in-camera, away from media gaze.

  • June 3, 2019: Trial concludes after year-long proceedings with over 100 witnesses being examined


More about brutality and the limit that such monsters can cross

  • Those convicted are Sanji Ram, the village head, his juvenile nephew Anand Datta and two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. Also convicted are Head Constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Datta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence. A seventh accused, Vishal, who is the son of main accused Sanji Ram, was acquitted.

  • Welcome to The Indian Express' live blog on Kathua rape verdict. Six of the seven accused have been held guilty. The quantum of punishment is likely to be announced by 2 pm. Follow this space to track the latest news


DETAILS :


In January 2018, the victim girl had been held captive, as per the police, under the influence of sedatives at a Devsthan (prayer hall) after she disappeared on January 10. Her body was found seven days later in the forest of the Kathua village. The J&K Police Crime Branch investigation had revealed the girl's rape and murder was part of a conspiracy to "dislodge" a group of Bakerw