3 get lifer, 3 others 5 yrs’ jail in Kathua gangrape-murder case of 8-yr-old girl

A COURT here on Monday sentenced to life imprisonment the three main accused in the gangrape-and-murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua, while awarding five years in jail to three others for destruction of evidence, lawyers said. After nearly a year-long trial, the court held the six guilty in the case that sparked nation-wide outrage, while acquitted another accused Vishal Jangotra, son of mastermind Sanji Ram, giving him the ‘benefit of doubt’, according to Mubeen Farooqi, who represented the victim’s family in the court.


Sanji Ram, the caretaker of the devsthanam (temple) where the crime took place, Special Police Officer Deepak Khajuria and Parvesh Kumar, a civilian, have been convicted under Ranbir Penal Code sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy, murder, kidnapping, gangrape, destruction of evidence, drugging the victim and common intention, prosecution lawyer Santosh Singh said. The prosecution had sought capital punishment for them.
 
The three have been sentenced to life imprisonment and fined Rs one lakh each after being convicted for criminal conspiracy and murder, the prosecution lawyer said. Life imprisonment will mean they will be in jail till the end of their natural life, he said. They have also been handed over different jail terms for various offences under the RPC which will run concurrently with life term, he said. Each of their three accomplices -- Sub Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj and special police officer Surender Verma -- have been convicted for destruction of evidence to cover up and handed down five years in jail and Rs 50,000 fine each, he said. If they do not deposit the fine, they will have to serve additional six months in jail, he said. The court pronounced the much-awaited verdict away from the gaze of media which gathered outside the premises.
 
The prosecution team, comprising lawyers J K Chopra, S S Basra, Harminder Singh and Bhupinder Singh, said it demanded capital punishment for the main accused and may go in for appeal against the sole acquittal. “We have sought capital punishment against all three accused convicted of murder and gang rape. It was hard work of all of us and a perfect blend of investigation and legal brains. We have achieve 99 per cent result,” the statement said. The crime branch of J&K Police had filed the chargesheet against eight persons, including a juvenile.
 
The trial against the juvenile is yet to begin as his petition on determining his age is to be heard by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. According to the 15-page chargesheet filed in April last year, the girl was kidnapped on January 10 that year and was raped in captivity in a small village temple, exclusively manned by Ram, after having been kept sedated for four days. She was later bludgeoned to death.
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