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3 of 6 guilty in Kathua rape & murder sentenced to life

The other three get 5 yrs in jail; 1 accused walks

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3 of 6 guilty in Kathua rape & murder sentenced to life
Security beefed up at Pathankot court before Monday’s verdict
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    A special court here convicted six people of the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old child in Kashmir's Kathua last year, sentencing three to life and the rest to five years in prison.

    Sanjhi Ram, the caretaker of the village temple where the child was held captive and assaulted, his friend Pravesh Kumar and special police officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria have been sentenced to life imprisonment for criminal conspiracy, murder, gang rape and destruction of evidence.

    SPO Surender Verma, head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta have been sentenced to five years in jail for destroying evidence.

    The court acquitted a seventh accused, Vishal Jangotra, the son of Sanjhi Ram, giving him the 'benefit of doubt', based on Zee News reports (April 30, 2018 and May 2, 2018). Zee News had earlier accessed CCTV footage from an ATM in UP's Muzzafarnagar showing Vishal withdrawing cash during the time investigative officers claimed he was in Kathua.

    "I would like to thank Zee News for accessing the footage. We have always said my son is innocent. My husband too is innocent and it would be proven," said Vishal's mother.

    The court's order said that "the genuine efforts made by Zee News need appreciation as they have tried their level best to bring the actual truth on surface."

    The closed-door hearing concluded on June 3, away from the media's gaze.

    As per the charge sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir police, the girl, belonging to a nomadic Muslim tribe, was abducted when she was grazing her family's ponies at the Himalayan foothills, on January 10, 2018.

    The child was drugged and held at a temple in a village in Kathua district for almost four days, and sexually assaulted repeatedly before being bludgeoned to death.

    The day-to-day trial commenced in June last year at the district and sessions court in Pathankot in Punjab, 30 km from Kathua, after the Supreme Court shifted the case out of Jammu and Kashmir.

    The apex court's order came after lawyers in Kathua prevented Crime Branch officials from filing a charge sheet in a case that had rattled the nation.

    The Crime Branch arrested eight people, six of whom were convicted on Monday.

    The seventh was Sanjhi Ram's son Vishal, who was let off, and the eights is his juvenile nephew.

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

    The court framed charges under the Ranbir Penal Code(RPC), including Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 376-D (gang-rape), according to the prosecution.

    The court also framed charges of destruction of evidence and causing hurt by poisoning under Section 328 of the RPC.

    The two policemen - Raj and Datta - were also charged under Section 161 (public servant taking illegal gratification) of the RPC.

    All the accused, barring the juvenile, were shifted to the Gurdaspur jail in Punjab following an intervention by the Supreme Court which also restricted appearance of the defence lawyers and limited it to one or maximum of two per accused.

    Crime’s History

    Jan 4, 2018 Sanjhi Ram provokes nephew to exact revenge on Bakarwals who’d thrashed him
    Jan 10, 2018 Eight-yr-old from nomadic community goes missing
    Jan 12, 2018 Her family files an FIR
    Jan 10-14, 2018 Child is kept captive in a temple, drugged, gang raped many times, murdered
    Jan 17, 2018 Her body is found behind the temple, in Kathua
    Jan 23, 2018 Then J&K CM Mufti orders crime branch probe
    Feb-Mar, 2018 Three cops arrested, Sanjhi Ram surrenders
    Apr 9, 2018 Crime branch files charge sheet against 7 accused
    May 7, 2018 SC transfers case to Pathankot for fair trial
    June 3, 2019 Trial concludes after examining 114 witnesses during year-long proceedings
    June 10, 2019 The Pathankot court convicts six of 7 accused
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