A horrific incident of rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua has rocked the state of Jammu and Kashmir with revelations that can send chills down your spine.
A horrific incident of rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua has rocked the state of Jammu and Kashmir with revelations that can send chills down your spine. According to the chargesheet filed by the state police’s crime branch on Monday, the victim was gang-raped thrice at a prayer hall after the accused had carried out ‘rituals’, The Indian Express reported. As per the chargesheet, the accused had confined the girl and her head was later bludgeoned with a stone to make sure she was dead. In an action of the sheer barbarity, one accused had asked other perpetrators to “wait” as he wanted to rape her for the last time.
The incident had created furore in the region but only managed to hit headlines after a group of lawyers allegedly tried to stall the filing of the chargesheet on Tuesday. The incident snowballed into a major controversy after a group of lawyers were booked for protesting and charges of trying to stall the police from carrying out their duty. An angry Jammu Bar Association has called a bandh in the city in protest against what they have termed as the selective targeting of a minority community in the state.
Details of the incident
As per the chargesheet accessed by The Indian Express, the victim, who belonged to the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, had disappeared from near her home in the forests next to Rasana village in Kathua, 90 kms from Jammu, on January 10. A week later, her body was found in the same area, and medical examination pointed towards sexual assault. During initial investigations, police arrested a juvenile. Later, the case was transferred to Jammu and Kashmir police’s crime branch with clear instructions from Director General of Police S P Vaid to catch the culprits, no matter how high and mighty. Two Special Police Officers (SPOs) — Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Kumar — and later, another five persons, including former revenue official and the alleged conspirator, Sanji Ram (60), who surrendered before the special investigation team, were among those arrested.
More from the chargesheet
As per The Indian Express, the chargesheet noted that Ram masterminded the conspiracy to kidnap, and later rape and kill the girl. It has claimed that he made SPO Khajuria and the juvenile a “part of the conspiracy and assigned them tasks separately and individually”. The 18-page chargesheet said that one of the rapists came from Meerut to “satisfy his lust”. The motive behind this cruel act was to “dislodge” a group of Bakherwal Muslim nomads, the community which the victim belonged to, from Rasana village in Kathua near Jammu, the IE report says, quoting the chargesheet. The report further points to the involvement of policemen, who were allegedly paid Rs 1.5 lakh as they had knowledge about where the girl was kept.
Protests by lawyers
The crime branch team had faced a tough time in submitting a set of two charge sheets when local lawyers allegedly tried to prevent them from filing the documents before the court on Monday. On Tuesday, the police filed an FIR against a group of lawyers. “An FIR has been lodged against a group of lawyers who held protests and tried to prevent the crime branch officials from performing their duty,” a senior police official said, according to reports. The Jammu Bar Association, on the other hand, alleged that minority Dogras of Jammu and Kashmir in Hiranagar were being “targeted” in the probe by the crime branch and called for a ‘Jammu Bandh’ on Wednesday.
Politics after the incident
Political parties also traded charges over the handling of the case and the issue acquired a communal hue due to the alleged association of the accused with a right-wing group. It was found during investigations that a group ‘Hindu Ekta Manch’, which was spearheading an agitation against state police’s probe, had also been opposing the settlement of Gujjar and Bakerwal tribes in Kathua, an official said. The matter escalated when two BJP ministers in the ruling coalition — Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Parkash Ganga and Forest Minister Lal Singh hit out at the police for arresting “one or the other person at will”. “We too want that the real accused are punished…We have heard you. We will not allow this jungle raj, under which they (police) are picking up people at will, to continue. What kind of investigation are they doing?” Forest Minister Lal Singh said questioning why the probe was not being handed over to the CBI. The ‘Hindu Ekta Manch’, from which the BJP has distanced itself, had also taken out a rally holding a tricolour to press for their demands.
Jammu and Kashmir CM’s reaction
The incident and use of national flag had evoked sharp reaction from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who had tweeted: “Appalled by the marches and protests in defence of the recently apprehended rapist in Kathua. Also horrified by their use of our national flag in these demonstrations, this is nothing short of desecration. The accused has been arrested and the law will follow its course.”