Jammu: The crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police, which probed the brutal rape-and-murder of an eight-year-old ‘Bakerwal’ girl in Kathua in January this year, has secured statements of 22 witnesses before a judicial magistrate.
A senior police official said that the statements had been recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code before a magistrate in which they gave details of the conspiracy hatched by Sanjhi Ram and others.
According to the laid down process, police approach a magistrate with request for recording the statement of a witness. After his or her production, the magistrate ensures that the statement is given according to the free will of the individual and the entire process is videographed.
In case, the witness, who has registered the statement, turns hostile during trial, police can press perjury charges against him or her.
“The statements did help us in our investigations and we are hopeful that the guilty will be punished,” a crime branch official said.
Two charge sheets were filed against eight accused under various sections of the Ranbir Penal Code (equivalent of IPC) related to rape, illegal confinement, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy.
The accused are Sanjhi Ram, his son Vishal, special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, head constable Tilak Raj, sub-inspector Anand Dutta, civilian Parvesh Kumar, and Sanjhi Ram’s minor nephew.
The abduction, rape and killing of the girl, hailing from Muslim nomad community ‘Bakerwal’, was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority community from the area, reveals a 15-page charge sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s crime branch in the chief judicial magistrate’s court here on Monday.