The Jammu and Kashmir Police, probing the alleged rape and murder of a minor girl, filed a separate charge sheet today against another accused, who was earlier said to be a juvenile, at a court in Kathua district, even as the incident snowballed into a major controversy.
While the political parties in the state traded charges over the handling of the case, the issue also acquired communal colours due to association of the accused with a right-wing group.
Yesterday, a senior police official had said the crime branch has filed a charge sheet against seven of the eight accused in the case, even as the Kathua bar association claimed the officials were compelled to leave the court premises without filing the charge sheet amid protest by local lawyers.
“We have filed a separate challan (charge sheet) against another accused in the court today,” a top police officer told PTI.
The police have also filed an FIR against lawyers for protesting and attempting to prevent the crime branch officials from their filing charge sheet in the court yesterday.
The body of the girl, from the Bakherwal community, was recovered from Rassana forest on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area.
On January 23, the government had handed over the case to the crime branch of the state police which formed a Special Investigation Team and arrested eight people including two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destruction of evidence.
Among the accused, former revenue official and the alleged conspirator, Sanji Ram (60), surrendered before the crime branch on March 20 after his son, Vishal, was arrested from Uttar Pradesh.
According to a senior crime branch officer, following a medical examination on March 7, the accused who was thought to be a juvenile, was found to be 19 years old.
Yesterday, all the members of the Kathua bar association protested the presentation of the charge sheet by the crime branch in the case as they were demanding CBI probe into it.
The president of Kathua Bar Association, Kirty Bhushan Mahajan, said the bar association is on strike protesting the crime branch probing the case and is in favour of a CBI inquiry.
The Jammu Bar Association, which alleged that the minority Dogras of Jammu and Kashmir in Hiranagar were being targeted in the probe by the crime branch is on strike for the past five days and has called for Jammu Bandh tomorrow.
The Congress and the CPI(M) strongly condemned the lawyers’ protests, while the NC demanded shifting the trial out of Kathua and setting up a fast track court for speedy delivery of justice.