Pathankot: A thick security blanket was on Thursday thrown in around the four-storey judicial court complex in Punjab’s Pathankot and all necessary arrangements were done to ensure a smooth trial in the sensational Kathua rape and murder case.
The case, involving the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl from a nomadic community in Kathua district in January, was transferred by the Supreme Court from Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot.
The apex court had, on May 7, also directed day-to-day in-camera trial in the case. Seven of the accused will be brought to the court complex on the old Pathankot-Delhi highway and will be presented before district and sessions judge Tejwinder Singh. The eighth accused in the case, a juvenile, is facing trial in a juvenile court in Kathua. The court had asked the district and sessions judge at Pathankot to personally undertake the trial proceedings and not assign it to other session judges, stating that it would monitor the progress of trial in the case and no other courts should entertain any other plea related to the matter.
The trial in the case will be held according to the provisions of Ranbir Penal Code, which is applicable in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pathankot Bar Association president Reshpaul Thakur said this was for the first time such a high-profile case was to be heard in the court.
The Punjab authorities have made elaborate security arrangements to ensure a smooth trial in the case. A large number of policemen, including women personnel, have been deployed within and outside the court complex.
The main entrance of the complex has been blocked for vehicles, including those belonging to the staffers, who were asked to park their vehicles in an adjacent complex.
CCTV vans were also deployed in the court premises to keep an eye on trouble makers. The policemen were seen in riot gear, some armed with guns and most of them carrying batons and shields.
Special security squads armed with mine detectors and sniffer dogs were doing the rounds to sanitise the complex, where the police have set up barricades outside the main door.
“All necessary arrangements are in place to ensure smooth trial in the case,” a senior police officer supervising the security arrangements in and outside the court, told news agency PTI.
Officials said a police team along with staff of Kathua’s district and sessions judge will present the files of the case to the court here and request permission to translate the documents from Urdu to English.
The Crime Branch had submitted a charge sheet in the case on April 9 before the Kathua court.
The case came into the limelight after lawyers of the Kathua bar association reportedly tried to prevent the police from submitting the documents.
According to the 15-page charge sheet, the eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped on January 10 this year, was allegedly raped in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district. She was kept sedated for four days before being bludgeoned to death. The abduction, rape and killing of the child was part of a carefully planned strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area, it said.
It named eight persons, including temple custodian and alleged mastermind Sanji Ram, his son Vishal, special police officers Deepak Khajuria alias ‘Deepu’ and Surender Verma, and a juvenile. The others arrested in the case are the juvenile’s friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu as well as head constable Tilak Raj and sub-inspector Anand Dutta.
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 in the case.