A court in Pathankot has sentenced three accused of the Kathua gang rape and murder case to life imprisonment, reported news agency ANI. The court has started awarding the quantum of punishment to all six convicts in the case.
The three cops who have been convicted in the case have each been sentenced to five years in jail, reported News18. The convicted cops are head constable Anand Dutta,Tilak Raj and Surender Verma.
The prosecution has reportedly decided to challenge the acquittal of the Hindu priest’s son Vishal and his age since he is said to be a juvenile. The prosecution will also plead for a death sentence to the convicts.
Earlier today, the District and Sessions Judge in Pathankot in Punjab had convicted six out of eight people for the brutal gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua in January 2018.
Persons convicted by Pathankot court were Sanji Ram, Anand Dutta, Parvesh Kumar, Deepak Khajuria, Surender Verma and Tilak Raj. Accused Vishal, son of Sanji Ram was acquitted for lack of evidence. The case of the eighth accused is currently pending before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to decide on the plea that he was a minor at the time of incident.
Welcoming the verdict, the then Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbboba Mufti tweeted saying it was 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.’
The 8-year-old child was gang-raped by members of the right-wing Hindutva supporters inside a local temple for several days after she was administered sedatives to keep her unconscious. One local police officer, also involved in the crime, had requested his accomplices to let him rape the 8-year-old child for one last time before killing her.
The act of Jammu Bar Association, which threw its support behind the rape accused and prevented the crime branch officials from entering the court premises to submit the charge-sheet was widely seen as pro-rapist and anti-national.
The development also evoked angry reactions from around the world. It took an unprecedented outrage by politicians and members of India’s civil society for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence. Speaking on the rape case, Modi had said that the guilty will not be spared.
However, the same day, one of her MPs, Meenakshi Lekhi, was profusely defending her party’s cabinet ministers in the then Jammu and Kashmir government, saying that they were misled. A report by Janta Ka Reporter and the subsequent emergence of a video conclusively established that the two ministers had joined the rally taken out by Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the rapists. While at the rally, the two BJP ministers had also made extremely insensitive remarks on the little girl’s rape and murder.
Doctors, after examining the viscera, had said that the medicine administered to the victim contained Clonazepam salt and had to be administered under medical supervision keeping in mind the age and weight of the patient.
“Considering her (victim) 30-kg body weight, the therapeutic dose of 0.1 to 0.2 mgs per day divided in three doses for patient (is recommended).
“She was forcefully administered five tablets of Clonazepam of 0.5 mg each on January 11, 2018 which is higher than the safe therapeutic dose. Subsequently, more tablets were given…the signs and symptoms of an overdose may include drowsiness, confusion, impaired coordination, slow reflexes, slowed or stopped breathing, coma (loss of consciousness) and death,” the PTI quoted the doctors’ opinion.
The Supreme Court had later transferred the case out of Jammu and Kashmir after the victim’s family raised questions on the impartiality of the local court. The case is now being heard in Punjab’s Pathankot. The opinion would be submitted before the district and sessions court in Punjab’s Pathankot, hearing the matter, after the summer break next week.
The crime branch in April had said, “It is to place on record that on the basis of opinion furnished by medical experts, it was confirmed that the victim was found subjected to sexual assault by the accused.
“Accordingly, on the basis of medical opinion, Section 376 (D) of the Indian Penal Code was added in the case. The medical opinion also established beyond doubt that the victim was held in captivity and administered sedatives and the cause of her death was asphyxia leading to a cardiopulmonary arrest.”