Kathua gangrape case: 6 convicted, 1 acquitted
Three accused have been sentenced to 25 years in prison and five-year sentences for the rest.
The much-publicized case of the gang rape and murder of an eight year old child in Kathua, in Jammu and Kashmir reached a verdict today. Six of the seven accused were convicted by the trial court at Pathankot, Punjab on Monday. A seventh accused, namely Vishal, was acquitted by the court, giving him the 'benefit of the doubt'. He is the son of main accused Sanji Ram.
The men who have been convicted under Kashmir's Ranbir Penal Code sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy, murder, gangrape and destruction of evidence are Sanji Ram, the caretaker of the temple where the crime took place; Special Police Officer Deepak Khajuria; and Parvesh Kumar, a civilian. The court also convicted Sub Inspector Anand Dutta and Head Constable Tilak Raj, as well as a special police officer Surender Verma for destroying crucial evidence. Sanjhi Ram, Deepak Ram, and Parvesh Kumar have been sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment whereas the remaining men will be in jail for five year sentences.
The prosecution team indicated that they might raise appeals against the acquittal of one of the accused.
It took 16 months for the court to deliver justice in the case that received widespread media attention and outraged the nation.
The charge sheet was filed in April last year - three months after the incident – and mentioned that the girl was sedated for four days during the rape and then later bludgeoned to death.
The case also generated controversy when two BJP ministers Chander Prakash Ganga and Lal Singh attended a rally in support of the accused. On May 07, the Supreme Court ordered the shift of the case from the trial court at Kathua to Pathankot in Punjab, citing threats to the family of the victim. The court had also ordered that the trial be held in camera.
According to the charge sheet filed, the motive behind the abduction, rape, and killing of the child was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area.
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