A special court in Punjab’s Pathankot awarded five years in prison to three others convicted in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl from Kashmir’s nomadic community.
Six of the seven accused in the Kathua rape and murder case were sentenced on Monday by a special court in Pathankot, according to lawyers involved in the case. One “juvenile” has been acquitted.
The judge pronounced the verdict in an in camera court.
- The three main convicts have also been sentenced to 25 years for charges of gangrape
- The eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on 10 January last year, was allegedly raped in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district
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According to the lawyers, the key accused — retired government official Sanjhi Ram, special police officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria, and civilian Parvesh Kumar, were sentenced to life imprisonment, while SPO Surender Verma, head constable Tilak Raj, and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta were awarded five-year imprisonment.
The lawyers, representing the eight-year-old deceased, told the media that the key accused were held guilty under 366 (kidnapping), Section 302 (murder) and Section 336 (rape) and 34 (common intention).
The three policemen were convicted under Section 201 (destruction of evidence).
However, Ram’s son, who claimed to be a juvenile, has been acquitted. He had pleaded before the court that he was appearing for a college-level examination in Meerut when the crime was committed in Jammu’s Kathua district.
Around 114 witnesses’ accounts were recorded in the case.
The eight-year-old girl from the nomadic Bakerwal community was kidnapped in the first week of January last year from Kathua’s Rasana area. Her body was found in a forest area on January 17, triggering protests in the Kashmir Valley and parts of Jammu. The Supreme Court later shifted the case from Kathua to Pathankot for a speedy and fair trial.
The family had alleged that she was kidnapped, drugged, raped and murdered inside a temple in Kathua, apparently to drive away the community from the area.