Kathua rape case verdict: Life term for 3 main accused

Kathua rape case verdict: Life term for 3 main accused

A year after an eight-year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, a court in Punjab’s Pathankot on Monday convicted and sentenced six men in a trial held in-camera.

Three of the six accused were sentenced to life imprisonment while three others, all policemen, were awarded five years’ jail term for destruction of evidence. The court acquitted one accused. 

Village head and retired government official Sanjhi Ram, special police officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar were handed out life imprisonment till their last breath and fined Rs 1 lakh each.

SPO Surender Verma, Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta were sentenced to 5 years in jail and fined Rs 50,000 each. 

The three main accused were held guilty of murder, gang-rape, criminal conspiracy, kidnap among other sections of the law.

Main convict and temple priest Sanjhi Ram’s son, Vishal Jangotra, was acquitted. Vishal’s counsel was able to convince the court that his client was in Meerut on the day of the crime.

The incident, which had gripped the nation’s attention, took place on January 10 last year, when an eight-year-old girl belonging to the nomadic community was kidnapped by one of the accused, a juvenile, on the pretext of helping her in her work. She was subsequently given sedatives and raped in captivity in a village temple in Kathua district before being bludgeoned to death.

The court did not find the case to be the rarest of rare to deserve the death penalty. 

The case had assumed political overtones, with two leaders of the BJP, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, drawing flak after they participated in a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the accused. 

Day-to-day trial in the case began in June last year. The case was transferred in May 2018 from J&K to Pathankot in Punjab on the directions of the Supreme Court. 

The trial against the juvenile is yet to begin as his petition seeking to determine his age is to be heard by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

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