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Father of minor victim of Kathua rape-and-murder case moves Punjab HC

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Chandigarh, Jul 10:  The father of an eight-year-old girl, who was raped and murdered in Kathua district last year, moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday seeking enhancement of sentence imposed on six convicts and also challenging the acquittal of one accused.

The petitioner has requested the court to enhance the sentence of Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar from life imprisonment to capital punishment, his counsel Utsav Bains said.

“It is rarest of the rare case and as per the standards set by the Supreme Court, that case of rape and murder by a gang of a minor child comes under this category more so when the manner of committing crime exhibits complete insensitivity, cruelty, depravity and perversion,” the petition stated.

The petitioner has also requested the court to enhance the sentence of three other convicts — Surinder Kumar, Tilak Raj and Anand Dutta — from five years in jail to life imprisonment.

Last month, a court in Pathankot had awarded life imprisonment till last breath to Sanji Ram, the mastermind and caretaker of the ‘devasthanam’ (temple) where the crime took place in January last year; Deepak Khajuria, a special police officer; and Parvesh Kumar, a civilian for the gang-rape and murder of the minor.

They were convicted under Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) sections relating to criminal conspiracy, murder, kidnapping, gang-rape, destruction of evidence, drugging the victim and common intention.

The trial court, while acquitting Vishal Jangotra, son of Sanji Ram, had sentenced three other men – Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj and Special Police Officer Surender Verma — to five years in jail.

According to a charge-sheet filed in April last year, the eight-year-old girl was kidnapped on January 10 and was raped in captivity in a small village temple, exclusively manned by Sanji Ram, after keeping her sedated for four days. She was later bludgeoned to death.

“We have also appealed against the wrongful acquittal of Vishal Jangotra in the case,” the counsel said.

The father of the deceased girl has also sought exemplary compensation for the family, Bains said.

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