The eight-year-old girl allegedly gangraped by six men who had held her in captivity in a small temple village in Kathua district for a week in January, was kept sedated so that she could be sexually assaulted once again before she was bludgeoned to death, reveals the chargesheet in the case accessed by PTI.
The abduction, rape and killing of the Bakherwal girl was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, reveals the 15-page chargesheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police's Crime Branch in the Chief Judicial Magistrate's court in Jammu on 9 April.
It lists the caretaker of the Devasthan, a small temple in Rassana village in Kathua about 90 km from Jammu, as the main conspirator behind the abduction, rape and killing.
Sanji Ram was allegedly joined by special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, Ram’s juvenile nephew, and his son Vishal Jangotra alias Shamma, reported PTI.
According to PTI, the chargesheet also names investigating officers – Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta – who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.
A separate chargesheet was filed on Tuesday, 10 April, on the role of the juvenile, who cannot be publicly named according to law.
All eight are under arrest.
Lawyers in Jammu on Wednesday, 11 April, went on strike in support of the accused.
A Well-Planned Monstrosity
On 11 January, six days before the child’s body was recovered from the Rassana forest, the juvenile phoned his cousin Jangotra and asked him to return from Meerut, where he was studying, if he wanted to “satisfy his lust” the chargesheet stated.
The document lays bare the larger conspiracy to instill fear in the Bakerwal community and explains in excruciating detail how it was carried out.
The eight-year-old had gone missing on 10 January while grazing horses in the forest. Investigators said the accused abducted the girl under the pretext of helping her find her horses.
According to PTI, the day after their daughter went missing, the parents went to the Devasthan and asked Ram about her whereabouts. He said she may have gone to a relative's house.
According to the chargesheet, the accused drugged the girl with sedatives while holding her in captivity at the Devasthan.
The juvenile, a school dropout, turned out to be the main player in the abduction and murder, raping the child repeatedly along with Jangotra and Khajuria.
The medical examination of the juvenile showed he is an adult, but the court is yet to take cognisance of the report, said an official to PTI.
"Khajuria lured the juvenile to kidnap the girl on the assurance that he will help him clear the board examination (through cheating). Subsequently, he shared the plan, worked out by Ram and Khajuria, with Parvesh Kumar alias 'Mannu', his close friend, and asked for his help in executing the plan," the chargesheet stated, reported PTI.
Jangotra reached Rassana from Meerut after his cousin's call and raped the sedated girl along with the juvenile and Mannu. Ram and his nephew performed their usual daily rituals at the Devasthan to avoid suspicion.
It was on Ram's direction that the child was removed from the temple and taken to a culvert in the nearby forest by Mannu, Jangotra and the juvenile with the intention of murdering her.
According to the investigation, Khajuria also reached the spot and told them to wait as “he wanted to rape her before she is killed”. The chargesheet said the girl was once again gangraped and later killed by the juvenile.
"The juvenile hit the girl twice with a stone on her head and later dumped her body in the forest after their plan to throw the body in a canal could not materialise due to failure to arrange a vehicle," it said.
On 23 January, about a week after the body was discovered, the government handed over the case to the Crime Branch, which formed a Special Investigation Team.
“…in the course of investigation, it transpired that somewhere in the first week of January, accused Sanji Ram decided to put a plan to dislodge the Bakherwal community from Rassana area which had been brewing in his mind for quite some time, into operation and in pursuance to that he made accused Deepak Khajuria, a special police officer, and his nephew (juvenile) as part of the conspiracy and assigned them tasks separately and individually,” the chargesheet said.
Ram surrendered on 20 March after his son was arrested from Uttar Pradesh a day earlier.
Investigations revealed that Ram gave Rs 4 lakh to the police officers investigating the case in three installments.
After the body was recovered, Head Constable Raj, who knew about the conspiracy, met Ram at his home and requested him to hand over one of the accused as things had gone out of control due to the agitation by the Bakherwals.
However, Ram paid Raj Rs 1 lakh to be passed on to Sub-Inspector Dutta.
The investigation explained in detail how the accused police officials destroyed crucial evidence by washing the clothes of the victim before sending them to the forensic laboratory, and fabricated false evidence at the scene.
"In the course of the investigation, it transpired that Ram was against the settlement of Bakherwals in Rassana, Kootah and Dhamyal area and always kept on motivating members of his community not to provide land for grazing or any other kind of assistance to them," the investigation said.
Chargesheet Filed Amid Protests
The Jammu and Kashmir police on Monday, 9 April, presented the chargesheet at the Chief Judicial Magistrate's court in Kathua, even as lawyers protested outside the court premises to prevent them from doing so.
The protesting lawyers demanded that the case be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation for a probe instead of being handled by the Jammu and Kashmir investigative authorities.
Following the protest outside the Kathua court, members of the Bar Association put out a press release saying that all Bar members "strongly condemn the conduct of the Crime Branch in dealing with the issue." They also asserted that the state government failed to "understand the sentiments of the people."
The lawyers also said that they do not intend to stifle the agitation anytime soon.
(With inputs from PTI)
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)