Kathua Case: The rape and murder of eight-year-old had triggered widespread protests.
New Delhi: Three men will spend life in jail for an eight-year-old girl's gang-rape, torture and killing in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua last year, a case that shocked and disturbed the entire country with the sheer depravity of it. Three more including two policemen held guilty of destroying evidence will serve five years in jail and have been fined. The girl's family had demanded that all six be hanged for true justice. Former government officer Sanji Ram, believed to be the mastermind, was among those sentenced to life in jail by a special fast-track court in Pathankot. His son is the only one freed today in the Kathua case, over lack of evidence.
Here is your ten-point cheat sheet on this big story:
- Sanji Ram, 61, a retired revenue officer, was the caretaker of the temple in which the little girl, kidnapped on January 10 last year, was kept locked up for days, repeatedly gang-raped, drugged, starved and tortured.
- Also sentenced to life term is Parvesh Kumar, a friend of Sanji Ram's nephew, who helped him kidnap the girl and was guilty of raping her multiple times. The trial against the nephew is stuck because of a dispute over his age; he claims he is a minor and a petition on his age is yet to be heard.
- Special police officer Deepak Khajuria is the third man to be sent to jail for life. When the child was strangled and was about to be killed with a stone, he begged to be allowed to "rape her one last time".
- Another special police officer, Surender Verma, Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta will serve five years in jail and pay a fine of Rs 25,000. The cops were accused of destroying evidence.
- Tilak Raj has been found guilty of taking bribe to block the investigation. Anand Dutta was paid lakhs to cover up the crime, the police say. He tutored the juvenile kidnapper and also washed bloodstained clothes, according to the charges against him.
- The girl belonged to a nomadic tribe. Her mutilated body was found on January 17. Three days later, one of the accused - reportedly the juvenile - was arrested. Sanji Ram surrendered on March 20 last year.
- Amid nationwide outrage over the savage killing of the child, the case was handed over to the Crime Branch. Investigations suggested that the girl was raped and murdered in a bid to terrorise the nomads frequenting the Kathua area and drive them out.
- The case drove a wedge between the then BJP-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alliance in the state after two BJP leaders - Chowdhury Lal Singh and Prakash Ganga - participated in a rally organised in support of the accused.
- "Welcome the judgement. High time we stop playing politics over a heinous crime where an 8 year old child was drugged, raped repeatedly & then bludgeoned to death. Hope loopholes in our judicial system are not exploited & culprits get exemplary punishment," tweeted PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, who was chief minister when the case erupted.
- The Supreme Court ordered that the trial be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir after lawyers at the Kathua court prevented the Crime Branch from filing charges on April 9. All the accused, barring the juvenile, were shifted to a Punjab jail. The court restricted defence lawyers to one or two each, and ordered day-to-day in-camera trial. Late last year, the family of the Kathua victim dropped their lawyer - Deepika Rajawat - accusing her of not making herself available for court hearings. Ms Rajawat said she had been receiving death threats ever since she took up the case.
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