Punjab — The sessions court of Pathankot of Punjab on Monday sentenced six perpetrators of the gruesome Kathua rape case incident which involved abduction, rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl Asifa of the nomadic Bakarwal community in Kashmir.
The court sentenced a retired government official Sanji Ram, and other namely Deepak Khajuria and Parwesh Kumar to life and the three dismissed policemen – Anand Dutta, Tikal Raj and Surinder Singh – to five years in jail.
The girl was abducted in order to scare away the minority nomadic community from the area in January 2018. The prepretrators first overdosed the girl with a cocktail of sedatives during her captivity and raped her repeatedly. After four days, she was strangled and then bludgeoned with a stone to make sure she was dead.
However, three Policemen tasked to carry out the initial rape and murder investigation, destroyed the evidences.
According to the Police, Sanji Ram, a retired revenue department official, was the key player who wanted to drive the nomadic community from his native Rasana village, so he provoked his nephew to abduct the girl, while his son Vishal has been acquitted.
According to the Indian media, the trial was shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir to a special court in Punjab’s Pathankot on the orders of the Supreme Court. The girl’s parents had approached the top court to get the case transferred out of the state because they feared for the lives of the family, friends and witnesses.
By then, Jammu and Kashmir’s Crime Branch had already moved to arrest the accused who were being supported by the right-wing Hindu Ekta Manch and BJP lawmakers.
A videotape of the speech by two state BJP ministers that appeared to support the accused soon erupted into a huge controversy and brought the Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP coalition government close to the break-up. In the meanwhie, PM Narender Modi faced the public heat, he reassured that such culprits will not be let off the hands of law.
The two BJP ministers, Chandra Prakash Ganga – Industries Minister, and Lal Singh – Forest Minster were forced to step down.
Omar Abdullah, the former J&K chief minister sought the most severe punishment for the accused.
“Amen to that (conviction). The guilty deserve the most severe punishment possible under law. And to those politicians who defended the accused, vilified the victim & threatened the legal system no words of condemnation are enough,” he expressed.
Mehbooba Mufti, who was the chief minister when the young girl was raped, welcomed the judgement and took a shot at its former alliance partner, the BJP.
“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,” Mufti tweeted.