New Delhi: A shoddily drafted application for a birth certificate was the loose string that led to the Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday that the purported ‘juvenile’ was an adult at the time of the 2018 gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.
The case against the accused, who can now be identified as Shubam Sangra, was being heard by the Juvenile Board in Kathua in Jammu. He was lodged in a juvenile home in Jammu and was expected to be released soon.
According to the charge sheet in the case filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch, Sangra was instrumental in the abduction, gang rape and killing of the child.
The inconsistencies in dates and false information in the application for a birth registration certificate filed by Sangra’s father on April 15, 2004 were crucial in nailing the lie.
The application at the tehsildar’s office in Hiranagar, Jammu, was filed by Sangra’s father who wanted birth registration certificates of his three children. The eldest, a boy, whose date of birth was stated to be November 23, 1997, a daughter said to be born on February 21, 1998, and Shubam Sangra on October 23, 2002, police said.
The difference in the birth days of the two elder children was just two months and 28 days.
Moreover, no place of birth was mentioned for the older two, but Shubam Sangra was stated to be born in a Hiranagar hospital. A subsequent investigation to test the veracity of that statement did not bear that out, officials said.
A special investigation team sent a questionnaire to the Hiranagar block medical officer and asked for records of Sangra’s birth along with the particulars of the parents. The block medical officer verified the record and categorically stated that no delivery in the name of the Sangra’s mother had taken place on October 23, 2002, police said in the affidavit before the apex court.
The painstaking investigation was backed by a report of a board of medical experts that determined Sangra’s age as not less than 19 and not more than 23 on January 10, 2018 when the brutal assault took place.
The report by specialists from different departments, including a physiologist, dental examiner, radiologist and forensic scientist, based its conclusion on various clinical tests as well as Sangra’s physical appearance.
7 other accused
The special court on June 10, 2019 sentenced three men to life imprisonment “till last breath”. These were Sanji Ram, the mastermind and caretaker of the ‘devasthanam’ (temple) where the crime took place, special police officer Deepak Khajuria and a civilian called Parvesh Kumar.
Three other accused — Sub Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj and special police officer Surender Verma — were convicted for destruction of evidence to cover up the crime and handed down five years in jail and Rs 50,000 fine each. They are at out on parole.
The seventh accused, Vishal Jangotra, son of Sanji Ram, was acquitted.