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Kathua rape and murder case verdict: Temple priest, 2 others get life term

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 10, Jun 2019, 20:25 pm IST | UPDATED: 18, Jun 2019, 20:28 pm IST

Kathua rape and murder case verdict: Temple priest, 2 others get life term Kathua: After a wait of almost 17 months, 275 hearings and examination of over 130 witnesses, the district and sessions court in Pathankot on Monday sentenced 6 accused in the brutal gang rape and murder case of a nomadic 8-year-old girl from Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. One accused, however, has been acquitted by the court due to lack of evidence. The village head Sanji Ram, two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma and Head constable Tilak Raj have been convicted by Pathankot court in Kathua rape and murder case today. Vishal is the son of prime convict Sanji Ram. He was acquitted after the judge accepted Vishal's plea of alibi that he was writing an exam in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar when the incident happened.

The District and Sessions court in Pathankot has awarded lifetime imprisonment to 3 convicts including prime accused village head Sanji Ram,  Parvesh Kumar and Deepak Khajuria, while other 3 convicted cops have each been sentenced to five years in jail.

The cops Anand and Tilak, have been held guilty only for destruction of evidence in the case. Sanji Ram (prime accused) has been booked under Sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 376 D (gang rape) 363 (kidnapping), 343 (wrongful confinement); Deepak Khajuria has been booked under Sections 120 B, 302, 34, 376 D, 363, 201 and 343; Surinder Verma has been booked under Section 201; Pravesh Doshi has been booked under Sections 120 B, 302, 376; Tilak Raj has been booked under Section 201 and Anand Dutta Verma has been booked under Section 201.
 
The Court has also ordered monetary penalty of Rs 3 lakh 70 thousand each to Sanji Ram, Deepak Khajuria and Pravesh Kumar whereas Rs 50 thousand each to convicted cops Surender Verma, Anand Dutta and Tilakraj.

Advocate Mubeen Farooqui, representing victim's family said, "Persons convicted by Pathankot court are Sanji Ram, Anand Dutta, Parvesh Kumar, Deepak Khajuria, Surender Verma and Tilak Raj. Verdict yet to come on Vishal."

According to the 15-page charge sheet, the eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on January 10 last year, was allegedly raped in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district after having been kept sedated for four days before she was bludgeoned to death.

The court was turned into a fortress, as a large number of security personnel and riot control vehicles were deployed here ahead of verdict in the rape and murder case. The eight-year-old girl, belonging to a nomadic Muslim tribe, was abducted, drugged, gang-raped, tortured and killed on January 10 last year. The trial, which had begun in April 2018 against seven accused out of eight, concluded on June 3 last week.

The Crime Branch had arrested village head Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, juvenile nephew and his friend Anand Dutta, and two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence, were also arrested by the Crime Branch. All of them, except the juvenile, are currently lodged in Gurdaspur jail in Punjab.

Two first information reports (FIRs) were filed in connection with this case. One against eight accused of allegedly being involved in the crime and another against a group of lawyers who had allegedly stopped the police from filing the charge sheet against the eight accused in this matter.
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