Press Trust of india

Kathua case: Crime Branch to approach court against lawyer

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Jammu, Apr 24:  The Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch will soon approach a local court in Kathua against a defence lawyer who is allegedly circulating “twisted facts” in the case of the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl to vitiate the atmosphere, officials said here.

The police has taken cognisance of a CD in which a witness is seen as saying that he had been coerced by the Crime Branch to give a statement against Vishal Sharma, one of those alleged to have raped the child, officials said.

Sharma is the son of Sanji Ram, alleged to be the main conspirator in the case that has outraged the nation.

The CD, which has gone viral on social media, was passed off by the lawyer as a statement that the witness had given in front of the magistrate, the officials said.

However, initial investigations showed that it was prepared outside the court premises by the lawyer to mislead the public and create disaffection towards the government, they said.

“This is definitely an attempt to browbeat the witnesses in the case and we have to immediately step in keeping in mind the sensitivities attached with the case,” an official said.

According to investigations, the girl from a minority nomadic community was allegedly kidnapped at the behest of Sanji Ram, who wanted to scare away the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities which would migrate to the village, about 90 km from here, in winter.

She was allegedly held in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district for a week in January this year during which she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death.

On January 23, the government handed over the case to the Crime Branch of the State police, which formed a Special Investigation Team and arrested eight persons.

Ram was allegedly joined by special police officers (SPOs) Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, Ram’s nephew, a juvenile, and his son.

The chargesheet also named investigating officers, Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.

The Crime Branch filed two chargesheets —  a separate chargesheet was filed for the juvenile — before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Kathua on April 09 and 10 despite protests by local lawyers, who demanded that the case be handed over to the CBI for a “fair probe”.

The accused pleaded not guilty on the opening day of the trial in the Principal Sistrict and Sessions court on April 16. The court posted the next hearing in the case for April 28.

Cop, SPO arrested by SIT move HC

Jammu, Apr 24: A policeman and an SPO arrested in connection with the Kathua rape-and-murder case have moved the Jammu and Kashmir High Court seeking a fresh CBI probe into the matter and quashing of the investigation by the Crime Branch of the State police.

Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta and Special Police Officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria were arrested for allegedly destroying evidence related to the rape-and-killing of an eight-year-old girl in the state’s Kathua district. Khajuria was also allegedly involved in the gang-rape of the girl.

A petition was filed in the High Court in this regard yesterday by their counsel Veenu Gupta.

The petitioners pleaded that the Crime Branch probe be quashed as it had been shifted on three occasions from the local police to it, and finally to a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

“It is strange that a policeman, who was involved in a rape and murder case a few years ago and evaded arrest for three years despite being a officer, was a member of the SIT,” the petition said.

The officer’s subsequent acquittal in a trial court for lack of evidence is a matter of record, it said.

“Despite the sensitivity of the case, he is member of the probe panel,” the petitioners said, while pleading for a fresh CBI probe in the case.

The petition said there were “huge differences” in the post mortem and forensic reports and stated that the Crime Branch probe was “incorrect”.

The petitioners also objected to the  Crime Branch findings that the girl was kept at a Devasthan and alleged that the SIT had tampered and planted evidence.

They also alleged that the “main aim of the probe was to facilitate encroachment of government land by tribal people”.

The body of the girl, from a minority community, was recovered from a forest in Kathua on January 17, a week after she went missing.

On January 23, the government had handed over the case to the crime branch that formed the SIT and arrested eight people, including the sub-inspector and the SPO, who were charged with destruction of evidence.

Jammu has been tense since the incident and the Bar association has opposed the arrests alleging “targeting of minority Dogras”.

The trial in the matter began on Monday last.

Court denies bail to ‘juvenile’

Kathua/Jammu, Apr 24 (PTI) A Kathua court today dismissed the bail plea of an alleged juvenile offender, detained in the rape and murder case of an eight-year-old girl here.

The bail application of the underage accused was turned down by Kathua Chief Judicial Magistrate A S Langeh, the local lawyers said.

The counsel for the underage accused had moved the court for his bail soon after the Crime Branch had filed its charge sheet against him and seven other adults allegedly involved in the January rape and murder case.

The alleged juvenile offender had sought the bail on the ground of his age.

According to the Crime Branch charge-sheet, the juvenile accused had played a key role in the abduction, rape and gruesome murder of the girl.

The other accused arrested in the case include local resident Sanji Ram, his son Vishal Sharma and two special police officers.

A police sub-inspector and a head constable too have been apprehended on charges of destroying crucial evidence in the case to save the culprits after taking bribe.

The body of the girl was recovered from a forest on January 17, a week after she had gone missing while grazing horses in the forest area.

The Jammu and Kashmir government had handed over the case to the Crime Branch, which had formed a special investigation team to probe the rape-cum-murder.

The Crime Branch subsequently filed two separate charge sheets in the case – one against the seven adult accused on April 9 and the second against the juvenile accused on April 10.

Though the Crime Branch has filed a separate charge-sheet against the juvenile accused, it had claimed in its earlier charge-sheet for adult accused that a medical examination had found to be an adult of around 19 years of age. The court, however, had earlier rejected the claim.

According to the charge sheet, the underage accused, a school dropout, had lured the girl to a desolate place on the false pretext of helping her in finding her missing horses, held her captive at ‘devisthan’ where she was drugged and allegedly raped by him, Vishal and SPO on different occasions before being brutally killed.

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