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CM says no to CBI probe into Kathua rape-and-murder case

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Crime Branch arrests two more cops for destroying crucial evidence; Police baton charge, tear gas protesters demanding CBI probe

Asifa

Jammu, Mar 8: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today turned down the BJP’s demand for a CBI probe into the rape-and-murder case of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.

Mufti said that 95 percent of the probe has been completed in the case, Minister for Health Bali Bhagat told reporters at a press conference here.

"The chief minister told us (a delegation of BJP ministers) that the investigation into the case has been completed by over 95 percent. She said in a day or two the crime branch will submit the chargesheet and then the court will accordingly take a view of it," Bhagat said.

Meanwhile, police resorted to lathi-charge and used force to disperse the crowd demanding a CBI probe into the case, officials said.

On January 23, six days after the minor girl's body was recovered, the State government had handed over the case to the Crime Branch of the state police. The Crime Branch arrested a Special Police Officer (SPO) for his alleged involvement in the abduction and killing of the girl.

Meanwhile, in yet another breakthrough in the rape-and-murder of Kathua minor, Crime Branch  of police has arrested a police Sub-Inspector and a Head Constable for their involvement in destruction of crucial evidence.

Hawaldar Tilak Raj, posted at the Hiranagar police station, was arrested after it was prima facie established that he had washed Asifa's clothes that were soaked in blood and mud before sending them for forensic test. Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who was the investigative officer, has been detained for questioning, reported NDTV.

"We arrested a hawaldar and a sub-inspector is being questioned in connection with destruction of evidence,"  the report quoted Director General of Police, SP Vaid as having said.

Two special police officers, Deepak Khajuria and Surinder Verma, have already been arrested, while two more persons, including a juvenile, have also been arrested for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Asifa, mentioned the report.

Quoting police sources, the report said, the crime was carried out with a view to drive out Muslim nomads from the Hindu-dominated village.

“They claim that call details and mobile tower data place the accused on the location of crime -- there is evidence that drugs used to sedate Asifa were bought by Deepak Khajuria from a chemist shop in Kathua days before Asifa was kidnapped,” the report said.

In a letter to the DGP, the Crime Branch has detailed lapses by the Kathua police. Besides destruction of evidence, they accuse the local police of not preserving the crime scene.

“No searches were carried out in the village even after Asifa's family filed a missing complaint,” the Crime Branch said in its letter.

Asifa was kidnapped from Rasana village on January 10. According to investigations, she was drugged and held captive for a week before being murdered.

Meanwhile, Police on Thursday baton-charged and tear-gassed protesters during a march taken out by the Dogra community demanding a CBI probe into the rape-and-murder case of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district.

Several people were injured in the police action and the clashes that followed on Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Chadwal area. One person was reported critical after he was hit by a bus during the protest.

Thousands of Dogra community members had taken out "Ekta Yatra" demanding a CBI investigation into the matter and to protest what they allege as “mass detention of youngsters by the police”. The protesters allege that Crime Branch officials were harassing members of a particular community in connection with the case.

The minor girl's body was recovered from a forest area on January 17, a week after she had gone missing. On January 23, the government handed over the case to the Crime Branch of the police, which arrested two Special Police Officers for their alleged involvement in the abduction and killing of the girl, while two more police officers have also been arrested for destroying evidence of the rape and murder.

A special investigation team had also arrested a 15-year-old boy in connection with the case.

Today, a large number of police personnel were deployed in the area fearing trouble during the protest. The protesters raised slogans against Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, the BJP, and the police and the Crime Branch.

When the protesters disrupted traffic on the highway, the police resorted to teargas shelling and baton charge to disperse them, leading to clashes between them.

"The protest rally has been dispersed and the traffic has been restored," a police officer said. He said the injured have been admitted to Government Medical College hospital in Jammu.

The officer said one person was hit by a vehicle and was critically injured. The vehicle's driver has been detained.

The police said they had to baton charge the protesters to clear the highway. However, the protesters alleged that the policemen there pushed a person and he came under the vehicle.

Meanwhile, more than 70 activists of the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party were detained by the police before they could join the "Ekta Yatra".

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