ASIFA'S RAPE MURDER CASE: 3 accused get life term, 3 sentenced imprisonment of 5 years, 1 acquitted

June 11, 2019 06:33 PM
A Special Court today handed down life imprisonment to three of the seven accused in the January 2018 gangrape and murder case of an eight-year-old girl belonging to the nomadic Bakarwal community in Kathua.
District and Sessions Judge Dr Tejwinder Singh also sentenced three others to five-year jail term, while acquitting one of the accused.

Those given life term are prime accused and retired J&K Government employee Sanjhi Ram, special police officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar, alias Mannu. J&K Police Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj and SPO Surendra Verma have got five-year jail for destruction of evidence. Vishal Jangotra, son of Sanjhi Ram, was acquitted.
The judge imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on the three awarded life term.

Earlier, the judge convicted the three under Sections 302 (murder) and 376-D (gangrape) of the Ranbir Penal Code. The accused given five-year jail term were convicted under Section 201 (destruction of evidence).

The crime branch of J&K Police had filed a chargesheet against eight persons, including a juvenile. The trial of the seven was held here, while that of 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 verdict was delivered amid tight security at the judicial complex. The proceedings were held ‘in-cmera’ on the directions of the Supreme Court.

Around 10 am, the accused were brought in a police van from Gurdaspur Central Jail, where they have been lodged since the trial commenced.
Special public prosecutors Santokh Singh Basra and Jagdeeshwar Kumar Chopra and a battery of defence lawyers were present in court.

Delivering his judgment at 11 am, the judge said: “Six of the seven accused stand convicted.” This was followed by arguments between prosecution and defence lawyers on the quantum of punishment.

In his 400-page verdict, the judge relied on proverbs and idioms like “he who does not punish the evil invites it” and “every sin brings its punishment with it”.
The judge debunked the prosecution theory that Vishal Jangotra was involved in the crime. The defence counsel had maintained that Jangotra, a BSc (Agriculture) student at a Meerut-based university, was present in his college when the crime occurred.

It relied on CCTV footage of him withdrawing money from a Meerut ATM. The crime branch and special public prosecutors claimed he was telephonically called to Kathua from Meerut on January 12 to be party to the crime. The chargesheet had claimed: “In the course of investigation, it transpired that Vishal actively took part in the rape and murder of the victim and later tried to create an alibi by resorting to manipulating attendance records of his college in connivance with Sanjhi Ram and a relative, Kishore Kumar.”

Special public prosecutor Basra said: “I argued before the judge for nearly 45 minutes to give capital punishment to the three accused given life sentence.” They would challenge Jangotra’s acquittal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, he said.

“Simultaneously, on behalf of the J&K crime branch, which investigated the case, I will also seek enhancement of punishment of life sentence to death penalty,” he added.
A defence counsel said they would challenge the judgment in an appropriate court.

The name of the victim or her father didn’t figure in the judgment to “maintain the honour of the family”. The victim was addressed as Miss ‘A’ while her father was mentioned as Mr ‘Y’.
The hearing, that lasted 247 days, commenced in Pathankot on May 30 last year on Supreme Court’s directions and ended on June 3. 

2018 crime that shook all
Jan 10, 2018: Eight-year-old girl from Bakarwal tribe goes missing in Rasana village of Kathua while grazing cattle
Jan 12: FIR registered on complaint of victim’s father at Hiranagar police stationJan 17: Girl’s body found. Autopsy confirms rape-murder
Jan 22: Case handed over to J&K Police crime branch
Feb 16: Right-wing Hindu Ekta Manch protests in support of one of the accused
March 1: Two BJP ministers attend a rally by manch after arrest of nephew of a temple caretaker
April 9: J&K Police file chargesheet against sevenof the eight accused
April 10: Chargesheet filed against eighth accused, who claims to be a juvenile
April 14: BJP ministers who attended the manchrally resign from Cabinet
April 16: Trial begins in Kathua. All plead ‘not guilty’
May 7: Supreme Court shifts case to Pathankot, directs trial to be fast-tracked and held in-camera
June 3, 2019: Trial concludes, verdict reserved
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