The verdict in the case of rape and murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir was pronounced on Monday with 6 out of the 7 accused convicted.
The main accused Sanji Ram has been convicted under Section 302, Section 363, Section 120 B, Section 376 and three others Anand Dutta, Surinder Verma and Tilak Raj has been convicted under 201 RPC Destruction of Evidence. One accused Sanji Ram's son Vishal has been acquitted in the case. The quantum of sentence to be declared at 02:00 P.M.
The in-camera trial in the case that shook the nation ended on June 3, when district and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh had announced that the verdict will be delivered on June 10. Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around the court and in Kathua in view of the pronouncement of the judgement, officials said Sunday.
According to the 15-page charge sheet, the eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on January 10 last year, was allegedly raped in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district after having been kept sedated for four days before she was bludgeoned to death.
The day-to-day trial commenced in the first week of June last year at the district and sessions court in Pathankot in neighbouring state of Punjab, about 100 km from Jammu and 30 km from Kathua after the Supreme Court ordered that the case be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir.
The apex court order came after lawyers in Kathua prevented Crime Branch officials from filing a charge sheet in the sensational case. The prosecution team in the case comprised J K Chopra, S S Basra and Harminder Singh.
The Crime Branch arrested village head Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, juvenile nephew and his friend Anand Dutta, and two special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma. Head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence, were also arrested..
The charge sheet said the girl had gone missing while grazing horses. Investigators said the accused juvenile had abducted the girl under the pretext of helping her find her horses. The abduction, rape and killing of the child was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, it said.
The case had become a bone of contention between the then ruling alliance partners PDP and the BJP after two ministers of the saffron party, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, participated in a rally organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch in support of the accused arrested by the state crime branch.