Kathua rape accused to be produced before Pathankot court on May 31

JAMMU:  The eight people accused in the case of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community in Kathua will be produced before a court in Pathankot in Punjab on May 31 in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court, officials said today.

The Jammu and Kashmir’s elite Crime Branch will produce the charge sheet in the case as well as all the accused in the case before the district and sessions judge in Pathankot.

Officials said a police team along with the staff of Kathua’s district and sessions judge will present all the files to the court in Pathankot, 30 km from Kathua, and request permission to translate all the documents from Urdu to English.

Citing security concerns in transporting the accused to court, the public prosecutor will move a plea to keep them in judicial custody in Pathankot, the officials said.

After several petitions in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court as well as the Supreme Court, the case is finally set to move to the trial stage with the apex court directing the district and sessions judge in Pathankot to hold an in-camera hearing.

“The learned district and sessions judge, Pathankot, shall himself take up the trial and not assign it to any additional sessions judge and shall fast-track the trial and take it up on day-to-day basis so that there is no delay in trial,” the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court order had said earlier this month.

The Crime Branch had submitted a charge sheet in the crime on April 9 before the Kathua court. The case came into the national limelight after lawyers of the Kathua bar association tried to prevent the police from filing the documents.

According to the charge sheet, the eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on January 10 this 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 abduction, rape and killing of the child was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, the 15-page charge sheet says.

It names eight people, including temple custodian and alleged mastermind Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, a juvenile nephew and special police officers Deepak Khajuria alias ‘Deepu’ and Surender Verma.

The others arrested in the case are the juvenile’s friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu as well as investigating officers head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.

The case became a bone of contention between the state government’s alliance partners PDP and BJP. The saffron party had to sack two of its ministers Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga for participating in a rally of ‘Hindu Ekta Manch’ in support of the accused arrested by the Crime Branch. (AGENCIES)


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