Absconding ‘mastermind’ of Kathua rape & murder surrenders before police

Absconding ‘mastermind’ of Kathua rape & murder surrenders before police
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Support for Hindu Ekta Manch dwindling in Kathua after BJP distanced itself

Srinagar: Sajni Ram, the retired revenue official who was absconding ever since the police’s Crime Branch named him as the mastermind of the rape and murder of 8-year-old Asifa, a girl from the nomadic Gujjar community in Kathua district, on Tuesday surrendered himself before the Crime Branch in Jammu.
A top Crime Branch official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Kashmir Reader that Ram was arrested after he surrendered himself before Crime Branch’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ramesh Kumar Jalla.
“Sajni Ram has been arrested. He surrendered himself before SSP Crime Branch in Jammu today,” the official said, adding, “There was a judicial arrest warrant against him.”
Sajni Ram surrendered himself before the police three days after a team of Crime Branch arrested his son, Vishal, from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. The Crime Branch official who spoke to Kashmir Reader said that Vishal was also one of the main persons involved in the crime, having played a key role in the conspiracy.
Kashmir Reader on March 14 had reported that the investigating agency had gone to Sajni Ram’s home to arrest him but he had gone into hiding after his name appeared in the media. The Crime Branch in its status report submitted to court had accused Sajni Ram of instigating Special Police Officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria, one of the accused in the case, to carry out the heinous crime so as to terrify and drive out the Muslim nomad community from Rasana village in Kathua.
The Crime Branch has so far arrested eight persons in the case, including a police sub-inspector and a head constable for destroying crucial evidence.
Asifa was kidnapped from near her home on January 10 and her mutilated body was found on January 17. The Crime Branch reported that the girl was first drugged and later raped and murdered.
Sources told Kashmir Reader that the Hindu Ekta Manch, which was formed just after the first arrest was made in the case, is fast losing public support in Kathua after BJP general secretary Ram Madhav made a statement in support of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s decision to have the case investigated by the Crime Branch.
The sources said that since the news of Sajni Ram’s surrender, no one in Kathua has come out in his support.
“It was Sajni Ram who was mobilising people to protest against the investigation of the Crime Branch, but once his real face was unveiled before people, they understood why he was doing so,” a source in Kathua said.