Kathua trial to begin Thursday in Pathankot

Kathua trial to begin Thursday in Pathankot
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Jammu: The eight persons accused in the case of rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua district will be produced before a court in Pathankot in Punjab on May 31, in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court, officials said on Tuesday.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Crime Branch will produce the charge-sheet in the case along with all the accused before the District and Sessions Judge in Pathankot.
Officials said a police team along with the staff of Kathua’s District and Sessions Judge will present all the files to the court in Pathankot, 30 km from Kathua, and request permission to translate all the documents from Urdu to English.
Citing security concerns in transporting the accused to court, the public prosecutor will move a plea to keep them in judicial custody in Pathankot, the officials said.
After several petitions in the J&K High Court as well as the Supreme Court, the case is finally set to move to the trial stage. The Supreme Court has directed the judge in Pathankot to hold in-camera hearing.
“The learned district and sessions judge Pathankot shall himself take up the trial and not assign it to any additional sessions judge. He will fast-track the trial and take it up on day-to-day basis, so that there is no delay in trial,” a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court order had said earlier this month.
The Crime Branch had earlier submitted its charge-sheet in the case on April 9 before the Kathua court. The case came into the national limelight after lawyers of the Kathua Bar Association tried to prevent the crime branch from filing the charge-sheet.
According to the charge-sheet, the 8-year-old girl who was kidnapped on January 10 this year was allegedly raped in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district, having been kept sedated for four days before she was bludgeoned to death.
The abduction, rape and killing of the child was part of a carefully planned strategy to drive away the minority nomadic community from the area, the 15-page charge-sheet says.
It names eight people, including temple custodian and alleged mastermind Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, his juvenile nephew, and special police officers (SPOs) Deepak Khajuria alias ‘Deepu’ and Surender Verma.
The others arrested in the case are the juvenile’s friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu as well as investigating officers Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Sanji Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.
The case became a bone of contention between the state government’s alliance partners PDP and BJP. The saffron party had to sack two of its ministers, Chowdhury Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, for participating in a rally of ‘Hindu Ekta Manch’ in support of the accused arrested by the Crime Branch.