JAMMU, May 4: Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA) comprising former Supreme Court lawyer, Judge, University faculty etc, which conducted in-depth study of minor Bakerwal girl’s rape-cum-murder at Rassana village of Hiranagar tehsil in Kathua district, have fully endorsed the demand for CBI probe into the case while trashing investigations conducted by the Crime Branch point wise and even raised doubts over credentials of the investigators.
The GIA team members comprised Meera Khadakkar, Retired District Judge, Monika Arora, Advocate Supreme Court of India, Delhi High Court, Sarjana Sharma, Senior Journalist, Sonali Chitalkar, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Sciences, Miranda House, Delhi University and Monicca Aggarwaal, Entrepreneur and Social Activist. They submitted their report to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh in New Delhi today.
“There is a strong case for handing over the Kathua incident to the CBI. This will not only assuage the insecurities of the people of Jammu but also rectify the blatant inconsistencies in the case as documented in the report. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir needs to hear the voices of Jammu and not take steps that increase alienation of the population of Jammu. The demand for CBI inquiry is a legitimate demand. Not only must justice be done, it must also seen to be done,’’ the GIA said in its concluding remarks in 108-page report, a copy of which is in possession of the Excelsior.
Noting that all the people they spoke to condemned the Kathua incident in one voice and none supported the crime or criminals, the GIA, however, said the people didn’t have faith in the Crime Branch investigations. “All demanded that the case be handed over to the CBI. A large number of persons from Rassana alleged that the Crime Branch has indulged in human right violations while investigating the case. The people have been randomly picked and tortured. Families of the ‘accused’ alleged rights violation during investigation and in custody’’.
Pointing out number of glaring inconsistencies in the Crime Branch investigations, the GIA said the charge sheet mentioned gang rape of minor girl by at least three persons over many days but this is not corroborated by the injuries described in the post-mortem report.
The team said it compared another post mortem report in a separate case of an 8 year old girl, who had been raped and murdered. In that case, injuries reported on her private parts were severe with intense bleeding. “No such injuries were reported on the victim in Kathua incident, which, according to the charge sheet is a gang rape. Post mortem report only mentions abrasions but no injuries,’’ the report pointed out.
Referring to the charge sheet, which mentioned the site of crime as a ‘Devsthan’ housing Kul Devtas of the villages in and around Rassana, the fact finding report said the structure is a sparsely furnished room of approximately 20×35 feet. It is said to have been visited by a large number of people on January 13, 14 and 15 for Lohri and Makar Sankranti followed by Yagya and Bhandara.
“Is it possible to hide a girl with a height of 4 feet under a table measuring three and half feet? Is it possible to hide a girl in the room with three door and three windows with only grills and no panes? Was the site a secluded place where a girl could be sedated and hidden?’’, the GIA report asked putting another question mark on the investigations. It clarified that the place was neither a Mandir nor Devisthan but a Devsthan.
“No clear motive emerged in the charge sheet. If the intention was to scare the Bakerwals why did the accused resort to kidnapping of the child? It is evident that the child would have clearly recognized the kidnappers as they were known to her. It the intention was to kidnap and murder the child, it is not established in the charge sheet,’’ the report noted.
Pointing out that that body was recovered from a site near the house of Sanji ram, the GIA report said: “the place where her body was recovered raised questions. Why would an alleged murderer dump the body barely 100 meters away from his own house? There are a number of sites in the small village that could have been used to dump the body. There is a small nullah that was the logical site for dumping a dead body’’.
Referring to another point in the charge sheet that the victim was starved and sedated, the GIA countered saying the post mortem report has pointed out that the intestines have digested food material. “If the victim had digested food material in her intestine, where did the victim excrete and pass urine? No such evidences have been found in the Devsthan’’.
A strand of hair that matched with that of the victim was found by the Crime Branch team after many days of the incident. The crime happened in January 2018. “This raised questions. Why only one strand of hair? Why no hair on duree under which the girl was alleged to have been kept’’? the report asked.
“The most glaring inconsistencies are seen in the post-mortem report. Two post-mortem reports have been found along with charge sheet. Both are different. The second report is signed on 19 March 2018 having substantial alterations. It took two months to give opinion?’’
Charge sheet mentioned the presence of Vishal Jangotra in Rassana on the days of crime. However, various reports suggested that he was in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, giving exams on the days of the crime. This is still under investigations but is a part of the charge sheet., the report said.
“Villagers reported that in the night of 16 January 2018, transformer in Rassana faulted with loud bang and the village was plunged into darkness. One person, Bishen Singh heard a bullet bike and after 30 minutes saw the bike returning. Two men huddled in blankets were seen by him on the bike. Even after repeatedly recording this statement with the Crime Branch, it hasn’t been investigated,’’ the report said.
The report has also raised question mark over integrity of the investigating team of the Crime Branch.
“The Crime Branch team consists of two ethnic Kashmiris apart from the SSP, Crime Branch, Jammu, who is also a Kashmiri. In a sensitive case like this one, and in a State like J&K, this matters. Further, the Crime Branch team comprised two officials Urfan Wani, SI and Nissar Hussain, DySP, who have been charged with serious crimes. Given the severely compromised process of justice in the State of J&K, the plea that they have been acquitted cuts no ice with Jammu,’’ the GIA report mentioned.
It also noted with concern that three investigating teams rapidly changed one after the other within a span of 10 days from 12 January to 23 January. 12 January to 18 January, the investigation was done by SHO Hiranagar while from 19 January to 20 January, the case was investigated by Additional SP Samba, Adil Hamid Raza. From 23 January onwards, the case was investigated by the Crime Branch.
“The Gujjar-Bakerwals are a nationalist community. The team found that villagers of Rassana are extremely nationalist and most of them are ex-servicemen or are serving in the forces. The people of Jammu are enraged with the mainstream media that has stereotyped them as anti-national and rapists without giving a fair hearing to their version.
“Since 17 January when dead body of the child victim was found in the village, the Hindus and Muslims of Rassana were equally anguished and were protesting jointly. However, by January 20 on ‘Chautha’ of the deceased, hundreds of outsiders including people from Kashmir joined the protests, raised pro-Pakistan slogans and hijacked the genuine movement for justice for the deceased. They raised provocative slogans as they rampaged through Rassana banging doors, a result of which the villagers were terrorized,’’ the report mentioned.
Meanwhile, speaking to the GIA members at the time of receiving report from them, Union Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh said: “we unanimously believe that culprits of heinour crime shouldn’t go scot free but at the same time, no innocent person should be arrested or harassed”.
He said he wasn’t speaking publically as this may harm the interests of those, who are innocent.
“We have full faith in judiciary and inputs given by the GIA members will be passed on to the concerned quarters,” Dr Jitendra Singh said.
He added that culprits should be booked but if anyone has been wrongly implicated, he will get exonerated.
The GIA has, in its report, mentioned 14 unanswered questions. They are:
* Why the investigating teams were changed thrice within a span of 10 days?
* Postmortem was done on 17.01.2018. How come there are two post mortem reports, both dated 17 January, 2018 with number of changes done in second report which stand signed on 19 March 2018? The first report states the presence of digested materials in the intestine, whereas the second negates it. How can number of abrasions be increased 2 months later?
* Why was the Crime scene, the Devsthan not sealed?
* Why was the victim kept at Devsthan which is frequented by people from three villages and that too during the festival time?
* Why was the body not thrown somewhere in deep forest or nallah but found just 100 meters behind the house of the main accused Sanji Ram?
* Why were no blood stains found on the floor of the Devsthan after the alleged repeated rape of the minor child?
* Why were no evidence of urine or stool found in the Devsthan even when the post mortem report states that the intestine was filled with digested material?
* Who clicked the photograph of the deceased from a high resolution camera?
* How come, even after seven days of abduction and alleged gang rape, the dead body was found with shoes on the feet and hair band on the head?
* How is it possible that the police washed the clothes of the deceased and hung it to get dried in the premises of the police station?
* What was the effect of high doses of sedatives over a period of six days on the child victim, as alleged?
* Why are evidences of fingerprints and foot prints not attached in the charge sheet?
* Vishal Jangotra has provided alibi that during the alleged period of crime, he was in Meerut and was taking examination. Why was this aspect not investigated by the investigating team to ascertain the facts?
* Residents of Rassana have repeatedly reported that in the night of 16 January 2018, the main transformer supplying electricity to the entire village got burst and consequently, there was no electricity in the entire village. Thereafter around 2:30am during the period of blackout, two persons covered in blankets around them and riding a Bullet entered the village and left the village after 30 minutes. Why this crucial information was not investigated, rather ignored by investigating team?