The girl, held captive for a week in January, was strangled and then hit with a large stone by the rapists "just to be sure that she was dead", a police charge-sheet reveals in horrifying detail.
The kidnapping, rape and killing of the girl of the Bakherwal community at the Rassana area of Kathua was part of a planned, chilling strategy to instill fear and drive the nomadic tribe out of the region, reveals the 15-page charge-sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in the chief judicial magistrate's court on Monday.
Sanji Ram, the caretaker of the "Devisthan" (small temple), is listed as the main conspirator behind the crime that has left the nation shocked at the sheer depravity of it.
Sanji Ram was allegedly joined by special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, friend Parvesh Kumar or Mannu, Sanji Ram's underage nephew and Sanji Ram's son Vishal Jangotra or "Shamma". According to the charge-sheet, on January 11, Sanji Ram's nephew phoned his cousin Vishal Jangotra and asked him to return from Meerut, where he was studying, if he wanted to "satisfy his lust".
Just before the girl was killed in the forests, Deepak Khajuria, a Special Police Officer, told the accused to wait as "he wanted to rape her before she is killed". The girl was once again gang-raped before her head was bashed in.
"The juvenile (Sanji Ram's nephew) hit the girl twice with a stone on her head and later dumped her body in the forest after their plan to throw the body in a canal could not materialize due to the failure to arrange a vehicle," the charge-sheet says.
The charge-sheet also names two more policemen - head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta - who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.
The child's body was found in the forests near her village on January 17.
The girl went missing on January 10 while grazing horses in the forest. Investigators said the accused men kidnapped her after pretending to help her find her horses.
A day later, her parents went to the temple and asked Sanji Ram about her. He said she may have gone to a relative's house. According to the charge-sheet, Sanji Ram gave the girl sedatives while holding her at the Devisthan.
His nephew, a school dropout, turned out to be the main player in the kidnapping and murder. He raped the child repeatedly along with his cousin and police officer Khajuria, says the charge-sheet.
The nephew's medical report shows he is not underage but it is yet to be accepted by the court.
Vishal Jangotra reached Kathua after his cousin's call and also raped the sedated girl along with two of the accused. Sanji Ram and his nephew performed the usual temple rituals to avoid suspicion.
It was on Sanji Ram's direction that the child was removed from the temple and taken to a culvert in the forest where the accused planned to kill her.
On January 23, about a week after the body was discovered, the government handed over the case to the Crime Branch, which formed a Special Investigation Team.
The police learnt that in the first week of January, Sanji Ram decided to act on his plan to dislodge the Bakherwal community; it had been brewing in his mind. "He made the accused Deepak Khajuria and his nephew part of the conspiracy and assigned them tasks separately and individually," the chargesheet said.
Sanji Ram surrendered on March 20 a day after his son was arrested from Meerut.
After the 8-year-old's body was recovered, head constable Raj, who knew about the conspiracy, met Sanji Ram and requested him to "hand over" one of the accused as there was too much anger among the Bakerwals. However, Sanji Ram paid Raj Rs 1 lakh.
The investigation explained in detail how the accused police officials washed the clothes of the girl before sending them to the forensic laboratory and planted false evidence.
Sanji Ram was against the Bakherwals living in the Rassana, Kootah and Dhamyal area and always kept on instigating people of his community against giving them land to graze.
With inputs from PTI