Kathua rape-and-murder case: ‘Kingpin’ surrenders after son’s arrest in UP

Jammu: A former revenue official, wanted by the police in connection with the rape and killing of a minor girl in Kathua district surrendered before the crime branch here, a senior police official said Tuesday.

Sanji Ram (60), believed to be the mastermind behind the rape and killing of the 8-year-old Bakharwal girl in January, surrendered after his son was arrested from Uttar Pradesh, the official said requesting anonymity.

Earlier, an official had said investigation has revealed that it was a pre-planned killing carried out with the intention of instilling fear among the Bakharwal nomads residing in the area and driving them out.

He had said the girl was drugged and raped before being killed.

The minor’s body was recovered from Rasana forest in Kathua on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the area. The incident sparked widespread protest in the state.

On January 23, the state government handed over the case to the state police’s crime branch which which formed an SIT and arrested six people, including two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destruction of evidence. One of the arrested persons, who was said to be a juvenile, was subjected to medical examination at government medical college here on March 7 which opined that he was over 19-year-old.

The crime branch submitted a detailed status report to the High Court on March 9 which is monitoring the case.

The case has divided the ruling coalition partners, PDP and BJP, over the demand of a section of people to hand over the case to the CBI for a thorough investigation.

On March 8, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti rejected the demand of BJP for a CBI investigation into the case saying 95 per cent of the probe has been completed.

Several organisations, including the Bar Association and the Hindu Ekta Manch, had staged a sit-in in Kathua town on March 3 demanding a CBI inquiry into the case.

On February 27, residents of Rasana village migrated to Hiranagar as a protest and blocked a road as a protest against the PDP-BJP government alleging harassment and mass detentions by the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Crime Branch. Two BJP ministers – Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga – visited the protesters and supported their demand for a CBI probe.

On March 4, senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh assured a fair probe in the case. (PTI)


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