3 given life-terms in Kathua murder case
Chief accused Sanji Ram who has got life-term
Three men have been sentenced to life-imprisonment in the infamous Kathua gang-rape case while three policemen will serve five years in jail, a fast-track court in Pathankot gave its verdict on Monday.
Chief accused Sanji Ram, his nephew Pravesh Kumar and special police officer Deepak Khajuria have been sentenced for life. Another special police officer Surendra Verma, head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta will serve five years in jail. The cops have been accused for destroying the evidence.
Sanji Ram, 61, is a retired revenue officer and he has been found guilty in locking up the unfortunate girl in a temple and raping her for days at end. Parvesh Kumar is a friend of Sanji Ram’s nephew who helped in kidnapping and raping the girl.
Vishal Jangota, son of the main accused Sanji Ram, was acquitted for want of substantial evidence.
The chief accused Sanji Ram was convicted under Sections 120B, 302, 376; Special Police Officer Deepak Khajuria u/s Sections 120 B, 302, 34, 376D, 363, 201, 343; Special Polce Officer Surinder Verma u/s Sections 201; Pravesh Kumar u/s Sections 120B, 302, 376; Head Constable Tilak Raj u/s Section 201 and Sub Inspector Anand Dutta Verma- Section 201.
In case of non-payment of fine, the term can be extended to six more months.
The victim girl, belonging to a Muslim nomadic tribe, was kidnapped and held captive at a village temple in Kathua. She was allegedly drugged, starved and repeatedly raped for days and was strangled and her head was bashed in with a rock. The crime had sparked protests across the country last year.
Earlier, before the delivery of the verdict, around 1,000 policemen personnel had been deployed in and around the Pathankot court, where the trial was moved to, given the highly sensitive nature of the case. The in-camera trial in the case ended on June 3, when district and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh had announced that the verdict was likely to be delivered on June 10.
The Crime Branch had arrested village head Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, juvenile nephew, two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. Head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence, were also arrested.
Three convicts with life-term sentence against their names would also have to deposit a fine of Rs 1 lakh each. Those three with five-year jail sentence would have to furnish a fine of Rs 50,000 each. In case fines are not paid by the culprits, their terms would be increased by six months.
Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah welcomed the judgement. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said she was "relieved" after the Kathua verdict and sought harsh punishment for the accused. "Relieved about Kathua verdict. Credit goes to crime branch team lead by IGP Mujtaba, SSP Jala, Addl SP Naveed , Dep SP Shwetambri ,@DeepikaSRajawat & Talib for ensuring facts came to light despite hindrances. People all across too galvanized support & stood up for this child."
In another tweet, she wrote: "Welcome the judgment. High time we stop playing politics over a heinous crime where an 8-year-old child was drugged, raped repeatedly & then bludgeoned to death. Hope loopholes in our judicial system are not exploited & culprits get exemplary punishment."
National Conference's Omar Abdullah also sought "severe punishment for the accused": "The guilty deserve the most severe punishment possible under law. And to those politicians who defended the accused, vilified the victim & threatened the legal system no words of condemnation are enough," he tweeted after the verdict.
The parents of the victim, who were demanding death sentence to the accused expressed satisfaction over the quantum of sentence. The victims’counsel however have decided to go for appeal in the higher court of law.
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