The three main convicts in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua have been awarded life imprisonment. Convicts Sanji Ram, Parvesh Kumar and Deepak Khajuria were booked under Sections 363 (kidnapping), 302 (murder), 376D (gangrape) and 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Ranbir Penal Code.
Three others, including cops Surinder Verma, Anand Dutta and Tilak Raj, who were booked under RPC Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) have each been sentenced to five years in prison.
On 10 June, the special court in Pathankot had acquitted one of the seven accused, Vishal Ram, in the Kathua rape and murder case.
Charges of Rape, Murder Framed Against 7
The Crime Branch arrested village head Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, his 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.
Charges of rape and murder were framed by the district and sessions judge against seven out of the eight accused. The trial against the juvenile is yet to begin as his petition on determining his age is to be heard by 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 imprisonment and maximum death penalty. The court also framed charges of destruction of evidence and causing hurt by poisoning under Section 328 of the RPC.
The two policemen – Raj and Datta – were also charged under Section 161 (public servant taking illegal gratification) of the RPC.
Sedated For Days, Bludgeoned to Death: Charge Sheet
According to the 15-page charge sheet, the eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on 10 January 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 day-to-day trial commenced in the first week of June last year at the district and sessions court in Pathankot in the 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.
The apex court order came after lawyers in Kathua prevented Crime Branch officials from filing a charge sheet in the sensational case, which had shocked the nation.
The prosecution team in the case comprised JK Chopra, SS Basra and Harminder Singh.
Crime Was Carefully Planned Strategy, Says Charge Sheet
All the accused, barring the juvenile, were shifted to Gurdaspur jail following an intervention by the Supreme Court which also restricted appearance of the defence lawyers and limited it to one or maximum of two per accused.
The charge sheet said the girl had gone missing while grazing horses. Investigators said the accused juvenile had abducted the girl under the pretext of helping her find her horses.
The abduction, rape and killing of the child was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, it said.
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 organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the accused arrested by the state crime branch.
Security Tightened Outside Pathankot Court
Security heightened outside Pathankot Court ahead of verdict in Kathua rape-murder case.
Police Allow Hindu Ekta Manch Head to Enter Court, But Not Media
Despite the police not allowing media persons or family members of the accused to enter, the Hindu Ekta Manch vice president Kant Kumar (blue pants and white/blue shirt) was seen walking right inside court premises.
Seven Accused Brought to Court, Verdict Shortly
The seven accused brought to Pathankot court, with verdict to be pronounced shortly.
Judge Who Will Pronounce Verdict Arrives
The Judge, who will pronounce the verdict of the Kathua rape case, arrives.
Punjab Police Allow Mediapersons to Enter Court
After initially denying entrance, the Punjab Police has allowed journalists to enter the Pathankot Special Court for the Kathua rape-murder case hearing.
All Accused Called Inside Court Room
All accused have been called inside the court room. Verdict expected shortly.
Six Out of Seven Accused Convicted
The village head Sanji Ram, two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma and Head constable Tilak Raj have been convicted by Pathankot court in Kathua rape and murder case.
Vishal is the son of prime convict Sanji Ram. He was acquitted after the judge accepted Vishal's plea of alibi that he was writing an exam in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut when the incident happened.
The cops Anand and Tilak, have been held guilty only for destruction of evidence in the case.
Convicts Booked for Gang Rape, Kidnapping & Murder Among Others
The convicts have been booked under the following sections, and are likely to be charged under more sections of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC).
Sanji Ram, Parvesh Kumar and Deepak Khajuria – RPC Sections 363 (kidnapping), 302 (murder), 376D (gangrape), 120(B) criminal conspiracy.
Surender Verma, Anand Dutta and Tilak Raj – RPC Section 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender.)
'They're Making a Mistake Letting Vishal Go Scot-Free': Kathua Victim's Father
Speaking to The Quint after the conviction of six and acquittal of one in the Kathua case, the eight-year-old rape-murder victim’s father Amjad (name changed) said, “The police told us Vishal (who has been acquitted of all charges) was the main accused. They’re making a mistake letting him off scot-free.”
Working on a Book On My Journey as a Lawyer Who Took Up Kathua Case: Deepika Rajawat
Advocate Deepika Singh Rajawat, who represented the family of the Kathua-rape murder victim, also took to Twitter on the day of the verdict, saying that she has started working on her first book which would detail her journey as a lawyer who took up the Kathua case.
Kathua Rape-Murder Case: Life Imprisonment for 3 Main Convicts, 5 Yrs of Prison for 3 Others
The three main convicts in the Kathua rape and murder case have been awarded life imprisonment. Convicts Sanji Ram, Parvesh Kumar and Deepak Khajuria were booked under Sections 363 (kidnapping), 302 (murder), 376D (gangrape) and 120(B) criminal conspiracy of the Ranbir Penal Code.
Three others, including cops Surender Verma, Anand Dutta and Tilak Raj, who were booked under RPC Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) have been sentenced to five years in prison and Rs 50,000 fine each. If they do not deposit the fine, they will have to serve additional six months in jail, a lawyer said.
Life Imprisonment to 3 Main Convicts for Murder
The three main accused – Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar – have been sentenced to life imprisonment and fined Rs 1 lakh each after being convicted for criminal conspiracy and murder. They have also been sentenced to 25 years for charges of gangrape.
However, there’s still no clarity whether the life imprisonment awarded to the three is until death or not, with the prosecution saying that it is, while the defence is of the view that it is not.
Prosecution Team May Appeal Against Sole Acquittal
The prosecution team, comprising lawyers JK Chopra, SS Basra, Harminder Singh and Bhupinder Singh, said it demanded capital punishment for the three main convicts and may go in for appeal against the sole acquittal.
"We have sought capital punishment against all three accused convicted of murder and gangrape. It was hard work of all of us and a perfect blend of investigation and legal brains. We have achieved 99 percent result," the statement said.