JK police withdraws plea to shift Kathua accused to Pathankot jail

PATHANKOT (PUNJAB), Jun 4: The Jammu and Kashmir police today withdrew its application requesting that the seven accused in the Kathua rape and murder case be moved to a Pathankot jail after the Punjab Government told the court that their prisons were overcrowded, officials said.

The issue came up as daily hearing in the case of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community in Kathua resumed in the court of District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh after the weekend.

The counsel for the Jammu and Kashmir police withdrew the application after the Punjab Government made its submission before the court, said officials and lawyers privy to the in-camera hearing.

The Jammu and Kashmir police had moved an application on May 31 asking that the seven accused be transferred to jail in Pathankot, citing security issues during the movement from Kathua jail, about 30 km away.

The court also heard arguments on an anticipatory bail application moved by R P Singh, chairman of the college where Vishal Jangotra, the son of Sanji Ram, the main accused in the case, was studying, officials said.

Singh, who is also mentioned in the charge sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Crime Branch, is alleged to have taken money to mislead investigating officers about the presence of Vishal.

The prosecutor objected to the anticipatory bail saying this would go against the natural process of justice and Singh’s role needed to be examined thoroughly, officials said.

The court is likely to give its decision on the bail application tomorrow, they said.

The court also allowed a team of private lawyers to represent the deceased victim after her family appeared in person and gave their consent before the court.

Jammu and Kashmir police gave a list of six interpreters who would assist the court in understanding Urdu during the hearing in the high-profile case which began on May 31, three weeks after the Supreme Court ordered that the trial be shifted from Kathua to Pathankot.

The Crime Branch informed the court that they would soon submit a supplementary charge sheet before the court to highlight how Vishal, with the help of university officials, attempted to create an alibi — that he was in Meerut from January 10 to 17 and appeared for an exam on January 15.

The Crime Branch maintains that he was present in Kathua and allegedly raped the little girl before leaving on January 14. (PTI)