Pathankot: Six of the seven accused in the brutal rape and murder case of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir were convicted by a special court here on Monday. This includes police officers Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar as well as Sanjhi Ram, the head priest of the temple where the ghastly crime took place. One other accused - Vishal, son of Sanjhi Ram - was let off by the court.
The closed-door hearing in the case was completed on June 3, during which district and sessions judge Tejvinder Singh had announced that the date of verdict. On Monday, the three accused mentioned above, as well Anand Dutta, Tilak Raj and Surender Verma were convicted under the Ranbir Penal Code. The six have been charged under sections which pertain to those dealing with kidnapping, rape as well as erasing evidence, among others.
Vishal, however, was let off by the court. Zee News had previously accessed CCTV footage of an ATM in Muzzafarnagar in which Vishal had been seen withdrawing money on the day and around the time investigative officers claimed he was in Kathua. "I would like to thank Zee News for accessing the ATM footage. We are grateful. We have always said my son is innocent. My husband too is innocent and it would be proven," said an emotional mother of Vishal.
Former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti reacted to the verdict shortly after. "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 exemp," she tweeted.
Security had been stepped up outside the court earlier on Monday with local police as well as SSG commandos stationed here.
As per the chargesheet filed in the case, the girl was abducted on January 10, 2018 and held captive at a temple in a village in Kathua district. She was kept unconscious for almost four days, during which she was raped. Following the heinous act, the child was brutally murdered.
The hearing in the case was conducted on a day-to-day basis in the district and sessions court in Pathankot in Punjab. The case was transferred to Pathankot on the orders of the Supreme Court.