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Kathua rape-murder case: Parents of victim anguished as two convicts walk out on bail

The parents of an eight-year-old nomad girl, who was brutally raped and murdered in Kathua district of Jammu, are anguished that while their appeal for enhancement of sentence against six people remains unheard, two convicts were released on bail in the case described by a court as a “devilish and monstrous crime”.

Mohammed Yusuf, who had adopted the eight-year-old girl, and Mohammed Akthar, her biological father, said they had heard that two culprits — former sub-inspector Anand Dutta and head constable Tilak Raj — had been released on bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which suspended the rest of their sentences pending an appeal. “I am surprised that two accused have been left on bail. Our appeal for enhancement of sentence is still pending while their appeal has been addressed. I wonder whether poor people like us will ever be heard.

“I hope the Supreme Court looks into the matter and takes some action as no one is hearing our petition,” Akthar told PTI. However, Yusuf claims that efforts were being made to dilute the case so that all the culprits were out. “When the accused are out on bail, I fear that one day, I will be booked under some frivolous charge and thrown into jail. They are very powerful people,” he said.

“Already rumours have started doing the rounds that the case was going to be re-investigated by the CBI, and all the accused will be out on bail,” Yusuf alleged.

The case triggered a nationwide outrage when the eight-year-old girl was murdered on January 17, 2018. After initial hiccups, the case was handed over to the crime branch on January 27 of the same year, which unravelled the conspiracy behind the heinous crime where the little girl was kidnapped and brutally raped for four days before being killed brutally.

The Supreme Court, had in 2018, directed the case to be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir and ordered the sessions court in Pathankot to hear it daily. As a result, Sanji Ram, the mastermind and caretaker of the ‘devasthanam’ (temple) where the crime took place in January 2018, Deepak Khajuria, a special police officer, and Parvesh Kumar, a civilian, were sentenced to life imprisonment till their last breath for the ghastly crime, while three policemen, Dutta, Raj and SPO Suriender Kumar, were awarded five years imprisonment for destroying evidence in June 2019.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, earlier this month, suspended the remaining sentences of Dutta and Raj, pending hearing on their appeals against the verdict. In separate orders, Justices Tejinder Singh Dhindsa and Vinod S Bhardwaj said that both Dutta and Raj have been on parole for 11 months and nine months, respectively. Senior advocate R S Cheema, appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir government, and advocate Manbir Basra had objected to the suspension of the sentence, saying the accused could tamper with evidence and create a law and order situation. However, in a near-identical order in both the petitions, the division bench ruled out the apprehension of Cheema about the possibility of a breach of peace, saying it “seems misconceived in as much as the applicant has availed of parole” during the period of his custody.

The sentences of the two convicts were suspended, and they were released on bail under the Criminal Procedure Code provisions. Both Akthar and Yusuf had approached the high court in 2019 to enhance the sentences of all the six accused besides challenging the sessions court’s order to release Sanji Ram’s son Vishal.

“There have been some hearings, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything is delayed,” Basra said. A 15-page charge sheet filed in April 2018 said the eight-year-old girl was kidnapped on January 10 that year and was raped in captivity in a small village temple, exclusively manned by Ram, after keeping her sedated for four days. She was later bludgeoned to death, it said.

The Crime Branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police had filed the charge sheet against eight people, including a juvenile. However, the trial against the child is yet to begin as his petition on determining his age is to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Tejwinder Singh, district and sessions judge of Pathankot, had in his 432-page judgment termed the crime “devilish and monstrous” and said it was committed in the most “shameful, inhumane and barbaric manner” for which “poetic justice” needs to be done to its perpetrators. “The circumstantial evidence led by the prosecution is definite, which unerringly points out towards the guilt of the accused. The circumstances have taken cumulatively from a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability that the crime was committed by the accused and none else.

“The circumstantial evidence is complete in itself and is incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis that the guilt of the accused and such evidence is consistent with the guilt of the accused,” the judge said, adding that the circumstantial evidence led by the prosecution has to be given “due weightage in the case”.

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Delegation of Jammu University Teachers’ Association calls on Lt Governor

Today, the office-bearers of the Jammu University Teachers’ Association called on Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at Raj Bhawan.

The delegation led by the President of the Association, Prof. Pankaj Srivastava, submitted a memorandum of demands to the Lt Governor pertaining to various welfare issues of the teachers of the University including promotion under CAS; grant of earned leave and enhancement of the age of superannuation to 65 years in favour of teachers, and various other benefits as per UGC regulations, besides establishment of housing society exclusively for University teachers.

The Lt Governor, while interacting with the delegation members, advised them to make continuous efforts to create a conducive environment for learning and innovation in the University.

The Lt Governor assured them that the issues projected would be looked into meticulously for their early redressal.

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JKP Border Battalion aspirants submit memorandum to Div Com Jammu

Today, a delegation of aspirants seeking recruitment in the Jammu and Kashmir Police Border Battalion called on Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Dr Raghav Langer.

The Aspirants apprised the Divisional Commissioner that they had applied for the post of Head Constable advertised by the Jammu and Kashmir Police Recruitment Board in 2019 and appeared in Physical and medical tests. But now, the JKP HQRS (police recruitment board) has reissued an advertisement notification for the recruitment of Head Constable in the border battalion.

The Aspirants demanded the withdrawal of the new advertisement issued by JKP HQRS. They further appealed to conduct the written examination of already qualified candidates and give a separate ad for more vacancies.

The Divisional Commissioner gave a patient hearing to the delegation and assured that the matter would be taken up with police authorities.

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Jammu Police Foils Bovine Smuggling Bid, 2 Arrested

bovine smuggling

Nagrota police recovered six cattle from a stubble-laden truck going from Jammu to Kashmir. The accused had made a wooden box inside the vehicle. Although cattle were kept hidden inside this box, the top and front of the box were loaded with straw so that the police personnel posted at the checkpoints did not even know that cattle were being smuggled in the truck.

The vehicle driver, Obad-ul-Rehman resident of Belicharana and his companion Murad Ali resident of Belicharana, Satwari, were arrested. A case was registered against both of them at Nagrota police station for violating the order of the district commissioner and cruelty to cattle. The police are not even denying that the accused must have stolen these cattle from somewhere. The interrogation of both is on.

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On the midnight of Wednesday, Thursday, on strong information about cattle smuggling, police personnel blocked the Ban toll plaza on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. During this, vehicle number JK02AW-5753, carrying straw from Jammu to Kashmir, was stopped by the police personnel for investigation. However, when the people in the vehicle were asked about their destination, they could not answer satisfactorily.

Due to suspicion of the words of both the occupants of the vehicle, the police personnel searched the vehicle. When the stubble was removed, the police personnel found a wooden box inside the vehicle. When I looked inside the box, there were cattle there. After the cattle were recovered from the vehicle, the people tried to run away, but the police personnel did not let them escape. The vehicle was seized on the spot. Both the passengers in it were taken into custody.

Amish Mahajan

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28 Jan 2022, 6:01 AM (GMT)

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