A district and sessions court in Pathankot has framed charges against the 7 of the 8 accused in the brutal gang rape and murder of an 8 year old girl at Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.
The court has framed charges under various sections of the Ranbir Penal Code (IPC not applicable under Article 370) including 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 376-D (gang rape), special public prosecutor J K Chopra said.
The trial of the case, which was shifted from Jammu and Kashmir to the Pathankot court following orders of the Supreme Court, began on May 31. The trial was shifted to Pathankot on the plea of the victim’s father. The Supreme Court had directed the sessions court to hold in-camera trials.
The accused against whom charges were framed are Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, special police officers Deepak Khajuria alias Deepu and Surinder Verma, Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Arvind Datta. The eighth accused is a minor and his trial is held seperately in Kathua. His fate is yet to be decided.
Sanji Ram is considered to be the main accused who is alleged to have hatched the conspiracy with other accused for kidnapping the girl as a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority Bhakharwal nomadic community from the area.
The court also framed charges of destruction of evidence and causing hurt by poisoning under Section 328 of the RPC. The two policemen Tilak Raj and Arvind Datta were also charged under Section 161 (public servant taking illegal gratification) of the RPC.
The crime branch filed a chargesheet on April 9 in Kathua in the case of kidnap, rape and murder of the girl on January 10. She was killed on January 14 and her body was recovered on January 17.The victim was held captive at a ‘Devisthan’ where she was sedated and sexually assaulted repeatedly before being murdered. The girl had gone missing while grazing horses. Investigators said the accused minor had abducted the girl under the pretext of helping her find her horses.
Forest Minister Lal Singh and Industries Minister Chandra Prakash Ganga had quit after a huge political row over their speeches at a rally organised by Hindu Ekta Manch on March 1. In these, both of them were perceived to be supporting the men accused of raping and murdering an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.
This horrific incident triggered a massive political unrest in the state and the country.
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